You have a lot of questions if you've been arrested for DUI in Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia. This is Part II of the answers I hope will help alleviate the confusion.
Will medications cause me to “fail” the breath test?
Generally, no. The breath test only measures the amount of alcohol in your blood, nothing more. So if you took pain medication, blood pressure pills, sleeping pills, etc., your breath test would not be affected in any way. However, depending on which medication you’ve taken, it may affect your performance on the Field Sobriety Tests, and your general appearance and demeanor. Be sure to tell your D.C. DUI lawyer if you took any medication prior to being arrested.
Is there any way to avoid a D.C. DUI conviction without going to trial?
In a very small number of cases, your D.C. DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a diversion agreement with the prosecutor. This agreement is called a Deferred Sentencing Agreement (DSA), and is the only diversion option offered by the government in DUI cases. First, it requires the defendant to enter a plea of guilty to the charge. After the plea is entered, the Defendant must satisfy several conditions. These conditions can be negotiated, but usually include completing community service, a traffic safety program, a victim impact panel, and an alcohol traffic program. If all of the conditions are met, the Defendant is permitted to withdraw his or her guilty plea, and the DUI charge is dismissed.
The officer who arrested me never read me my rights. Will my case be dismissed?
Contrary to what many people believe, not having your Miranda rights read to you does not result in your case being dismissed. The purpose of Miranda rights is to advise defendants of their right to remain silent. When the police fail to do that, any statements made by that defendant cannot be admitted into evidence at trial. So if you admitted to having four shots after you’ve been arrested for DUI, but the officer never read you your rights, then that statement may not be used against you if your case goes to trial. For more on Miranda rights, read my previous blog post here.
Why did I get arrested even though I passed the Field Sobriety Tests?
Well, chances are there is a difference of opinion between you and the police officer as to whether or not you passed the FSTs. As a D.C. DUI attorney, I’ve had many clients tell me that they did very well on the FSTs, only to read a very different story in the officer’s police report. The problem is that it takes very little to “fail” these tests. For instance if you raise your arms during the walk-and-turn test, sway on any of the steps, and step off the line even once during the nine steps, the officer will call this a failure. Fortunately, at your trial, your DUI lawyer will have the police officer point out all of the good things you did correctly during the tests. “Failure” of the tests in the officer’s mind may not be failure in the judge’s or jury’s minds.
I took the breath test, and my results showed a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or over. Am I automatically guilty of DUI?
Few things are automatic in DUI cases. Although a test score of .08 or higher creates a presumption that a defendant was driving under the influence, the prosecutor has get this test result admitted into evidence. Your D.C. DUI lawyer will put a lot of effort into preventing that. That means requesting pages and pages of records of the testing machine to ensure that it was working properly. It also means making sure that the testing officer followed all the required procedures before, during, and after the test. Even the smallest error or oversight can cast doubt on the validity of the test, and keep the judge from admitting it into evidence.