If you are arrested and charged with DUI in Kansas City, you may face life-altering consequences that not only include the immediate loss of your liberty and driver’s license but that may impact your future educational choices, employment opportunities and loan access. Although a law enforcement officer may ask you to submit to chemical testing of breath, blood or urine, breath testing is the most common form of test used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
This BAC test result will typically be the most important evidence available to the prosecution. If you were pulled over for a traffic violation unrelated to alcohol impaired driving and you did not submit to field sobriety tests, which you are not obligated to perform, the BAC breath test results may be the only evidence other than the officer’s observations of you during the traffic stop. Fortunately, breath testing is subject to many legal and factual challenges so you will not necessarily be convicted of driving under the influence just because you have been arrested.
Because Johnson County criminal defense attorney Stacey Schlimmer has both prosecuted and defended those facing DUI charges, she understands the wide range of strategies available to mitigate or eliminate the impact of these chemical test results in DUI cases. In this multi-part blog post, Ms. Schlimmer has provided an overview of those defenses below:
Illegal Stop and Detention of a Motorist
A police officer may not simply pull a driver over and conduct a DUI test. The officer must have sufficient evidence based on specific facts to establish “reasonable suspicion” that the driver was engaged in a violation of law. While the officer can pull you over for a traffic violation, the type of violation is important. If you are pulled over for driving with a cracked windshield or burned out taillight, this is not a sufficient enough legal basis to initiate a DUI investigation.
The officer may make observations during the stop, such as a driver having bloodshot watery eyes or the odor of alcohol on his or her breath, but sometimes these facts are alleged simply to justify the request made of the driver to submit to field sobriety tests or to perform a portable field breath test. Drivers are not legally obligated to submit to either of these types of tests and generally should decline to participate. If you were pulled over for a driving violation that is not indicative of intoxicated driving, the stop may have been unlawful.
Even if you were pulled over for a legitimate traffic violation that “may” be related to intoxicated driving like failing to maintain one’s lane or a pattern of erratic driving, this alone may not be sufficient to justify prolonging the stop without more evidence like the types mentioned above. Ms. Schlimmer analyzes the police report, dash cam footage, other witness testimony and other available evidence to determine whether the initial stop or the prolonged stop and DUI investigation was lawful. If the officer unlawfully stopped or detained the driver, this may provide a basis to exclude the chemical breath test results.
Kansas City criminal defense attorney Stacey Schlimmer provides aggressive defense to protect her clients who face DUI charges in Johnson County or the surrounding areas of Kansas. Our Kansas criminal defense law firm offers a confidential free consultation so call us today at 913-341-0484 or contact us online.