How to Beat a DUI Charge in Illinois-Top 5 Ways
A DUI charge in Illinois is a serious crime that carries with it significant penalties for a DUI including mandatory jail time in certain situations. However, a DUI charge will never go to sentencing if you beat your DUI case. Here are the 5 best ways to beat a DUI charge in Chicago or anywhere else in Illinois.
1) Win a Motion to Suppress Evidence and Quash Arrest
Every person, regardless if they are a citizen or undocumented, has a 4th Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure. Most driving while under the influence or DWI charges start following a traffic stop. Because of this fact, every DUI/DWI charge that begins with a traffic stop must be supported with probable cause, which means the police officer must have a valid basis to stop your car in the first place because the 4th Amendment protects drivers from being arbitrarily stopped by the police for no reason. However, any traffic violation however small can be enough probable cause to conduct a valid traffic stop within the meaning of the 4th Amendment.
An experienced DUI attorney can use the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to beat a DUI case. For example, when the police allege a aggravated speeding violation to justify a traffic stop, a skilled DUI attorney can establish that the police were incorrect in their assessment because their radar gun was not properly calibrated prior to the traffic stop or it was used incorrectly. If a lane violation is the probable cause to justify a traffic stop, a very common police claim, a DUI attorney well versed in Illinois DUI law can establish that the lane violation was warranted based upon the road or traffic conditions, which could defeat the probable cause claim offered by the State.
A competent DUI attorney experienced in fighting 4th Amendment issues can use a litany of arguments to win a probable cause hearing based upon a constitutionally deficient traffic stop. After winning a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence the State will be forced to dismiss charges against you that is why winning a motion to suppress evidence and quash arrest is such a great way to beat a DUI charge in Illinois.
2) Get the Breathalyzer Evidence Suppressed
Any competent DUI lawyer would advice his or her client to never submit to a breathalyzer test. The reason is simple. A breathalyzer result that is over the legal limit is the strongest evidence a prosecutor has in a DUI/DWI case. However, before a prosecutor can admit the results of the breathalyzer, a proper foundation needs to be established. The foundation required before a breath test can be used as evidence include a host of different things from the licensing required of the operator; the type of breathalyzer machine that can be used; how the test must be conducted; to how the log books that record the results are kept and maintained.
If these requirements are not met then the results of the breathalyzer test could be suppressed. An experienced DUI lawyer can file a motion to suppress the breath test results based upon a lack of a proper foundation for the breathalyzer results. Although a successful motion to suppress the breath test results likely won’t result in an outright dismissal, it will result in the suppression of a key piece of the State’s evidence in a DUI case, which is why it is such a great way to a beat a DUI case in Illinois.
3) Attack the Reliability of the Field Sobriety Tests
Another great method of beating a DUI charge is attacking the reliability of the field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests or FSTs consists of 3 tests created by the National Traffic Safety Administration. According to the studies conducted by NHTSA, field sobriety tests that are conducted according to its stringent guidelines are 90% accurate in detecting whether someone has a BAC higher than 0.01. It is important to note that the FSTs are not 100% accurate even when conducted in an ideal situation. However, such a situation rarely ever occurs in an actual DUI case where the field sobriety tests are conducted on the side of the road usually in the middle of a cold night.
A DUI attorney who has the requisite knowledge and experience can attack the reliability of the field sobriety tests to the extent that they play no part in a jury’s verdict. Once a skilled lawyer attacks the reliability of the field sobriety tests, the remainder of the police officer’s testimony is also called into question, which is why it is one of the top 5 ways to beat a DUI.
4) Prevent the Prosecution from Establishing Under the Influence
Most DUI/DWI charges in Illinois require the State to prove that the DUI defendant was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Under the influence is a legal term that is vastly different than being drunk. Under Illinois DUI law, under the influence can be any amount of alcohol that lowers a person’s ability to drive or act with ordinary care.
A skilled DUI lawyer can poke holes in the State’s theory and establish reasonable doubt as to whether a DUI defendant was under the influence. The crux of being under the influence is bad driving or in DUI parlance, erratic driving. An experienced DUI lawyer can establish that even though alcohol may have been consumed it didn’t result in the driver being “under the influence” because the alcohol didn’t affect the person’s ability to operate a car with ordinary care. Even in situations where an accident occurred, a proficient DUI lawyer can establish that the traffic crash was not a result of the alcohol but a result of the road conditions or mechanical error as opposed to driver error. Because under the influence is an element of most Illinois DUI charges and because it can be attacked in numerous different ways, it is a critical means of beating a DUI charge.
5) Jury Nullification
The final method in beating a DUI case is arguably the most difficult and requires the most proficiency from a DUI attorney. According to Wikipedia, jury nullification “occurs in a trial when a jury acquits a defendant, even though the members of the jury may believe that the defendant did the illegal act, yet they don’t believe he or she should be punished for it. This may occur when members of the jury disagree with the law the defendant has been charged with breaking, or believe that the law should not be applied in that particular case.“ Based on this definition one can see why it requires more than just a competent DUI attorney to pull off. To be successful, DUI lawyer must convince the jury to deliberately reject the evidence or to refuse to apply established law. Most importantly, a DUI attorney must persuade the jury to ignore the oath they took to return a verdict based solely on the law and the facts of the case. If this burden wasn’t difficult enough, the law prohibits a lawyer from arguing jury nullification to the jury. Despite all these shortcomings, jury nullification is still a great way to beat a DUI case.
In DUI law, jury nullification typically arises in actual physical control cases. In these situations, the DUI defendant is never caught driving a car; rather, the person is caught sleeping in a car while intoxicated. According to Illinois DUI law, sleeping in a car is the equivalent of driving. However, to most people sleeping in a car while drunk is vastly different from driving a car while drunk. A capable DUI lawyer can use the jury’s common sense to establish jury nullification without violating the prohibition from an attorney arguing for jury nullification. Although difficult jury nullification sometimes is the only available defense and when an experienced attorney employs it the outcome could result in an acquittal. Jury nullification is always a defense of last resort but when nothing else is available it could be a way to beat a DUI charge.
How do I beat my DUI case, is a question that we are asked on a daily basis at Jaleel Law P.C. While all DUI charges are different and the individual facts of each case are different, at least one of these top 5 ways to beat a DUI charge should be available in your case. However, as you can see being successful depends upon the ability of your DUI lawyer to effectively deploy these tactics because an incompetent attorney attempting these methods will likely result in you losing your case and possibly finding yourself in jail.
If you are facing a DUI charge in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, contact us today to discuss what method we can use to potentially beat your DUI case.