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Police mistakes that can aid DUI charges

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2022 | DUI/DWI

When a driver in New Jersey, gets charged with a DUI, they often think that they have no recourse to fight the charges. However, sometimes, police make mistakes that could help their case.

Lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause

To check a driver for DUI, the officer needs reasonable suspicion or the belief that a crime or offense has been committed. For example, constant swerving, running a stop sign, or excessive speeding are grounds for pulling a driver over.

Probable cause is a reasonable belief that the officer needs to arrest a drunk driver or conduct a search. To collect evidence, they commonly observe the driver for several minutes for signs of intoxication or conduct field tests and breathalyzer tests. They cannot just go on a hunch that the driver is drunk, so a lack of these elements may work in the driver’s favor.

Checkpoint errors

A DUI checkpoint must meet certain requirements in New Jersey, or it may be considered illegal and unconstitutional. The police department needs a reason to set it up at that location, and it needs approval from a supervisor.

The jurisdiction must give public notice in print or social media and set signs alerting drivers they are approaching a checkpoint. Officers are not permitted to stop vehicles randomly and may only hold drivers long enough to answer basic questions.

Breathalyzer errors

An officer may order a breathalyzer after observing the driver and conducting field tests for further proof. However, some medical conditions, such as diabetes and GERD, can cause the body to make extra acetones and skew test results.

The officer must also be trained to use the device and get it periodically calibrated or checked for accuracy. The defense may request maintenance and calibration records of the device in question if they suspect that it has not been tested.

A DUI often results in hefty fines, jail time, and loss of the driver’s license. However, a good defense may be able to find errors made by officers to get charges reduced or dropped.