How to Successfully Fight a DUI Charge

DUI/DWAI cases are complex, and knowledgeable attorneys often consider them to be among the most difficult cases to defend and prosecute alike. The murder statute in Colorado is one page, the DUI and DMV laws are close to 100 pages! Due to the vastly different situations in which a person could be arrested, there can be seemingly minuscule details that can win you your case. Below is a list of some tips that can potentially help you win your case.

  1. Never think that the case is lost before really looking into the facts:
    Due to the social stigmas associated with drunk driving, many people are under the impression that their case is cut-and-dry and cannot be won. This couldn't be further from the truth, as DUI/DWAI cases can often be won based on technical defenses, such as:

    • The sample was not taken within two hours.
    • The results are under .12 and the retest is below .10.
    • The results are under .12 and the retest is 20% or more off.
    • You burped and the officer did not start the observation period over.
    • You had something in your mouth, such as chewing tobacco.
    • You were on an Atkins diet.
    • You have diabetes.
    • You have dentures.
    • You work with solvents.
    • An alcohol antiseptic was used when blood was drawn.


  2. Don't accept that the field sobriety tests were administered properly:

    Many people just assume that protocol was followed while the police administered their field sobriety tests. This shouldn't be the case, assobriety test results may be deemed invalid based on technical defenses such as:

    • The test operator having a current certification.
    • The machine having a current certification.
    • Calibrating the machine as often as required.
    • Changing the mouthpiece before the test is given.
    • Keeping a record of the temperature of the calibrating solutions in the machine.
    • Keeping a log of the tests run.
    • Counting the number of times the calibration solution has been changed.

  3. Don't put yourself on the stand:
    Though it may seem like a good idea to put a defendant on the stand, it often backfires and makes matters worse for your case. Defendants who are not used to public speaking or feel uncomfortable in front of a crowd may come off as nervous or deceitful as they are not experienced witnesses. Furthermore, placing the defendant on the stand turns the jury's focus from deciding whether or not the prosecutor's case is strong enough for a conviction to a judgment of the defendant's character. In fact, the only time where it's advised to put the defendant on the stand is if they are going to contradict a statement the officer made.

  4. Personally inspect the arrest location:
    Many defendants and lawyers do not take the time to go out and visit the arrest location for themselves. This can prove to be crucial, as entire defenses can be built on where the arrest took place. A particular location could make the roadside test more difficult (or physically impossible) to perform than others or a winding road prior to the arrest location could explain why there was "erratic driving behavior" prior to the traffic stop. Regardless of what the discrepancy may be, make sure you re-visit the arrest location and take pictures from several angles.

  5. Consult a specialist:
    Firstly, you should always try to hire a DUI/DWAI specialist while dealing with DUI charges. Though a general practitioner attorney may be good at IP law or divorce litigation, they may not do so well with the intricacies of DUI/DWAI law. DUI lawyers know the ticks of the trade, and are able to see defenses in places where non-specialized attorneys may not. It's also not a bad idea to get a second opinion from a third-party testing facility on any chemical tests performed on you (i.e. if there was a urine, hair, or blood drawing).

  6. Request the police video:
    Many police departments now have video footage of DUI arrests, from their patrol car or from their body cameras. These can often disprove a statement from a police officer and offer evidence of sobriety. You must file a motion with the court asking them to order the police department to preserve all video evidence.

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Revised: May 16, 2022, 7:06 a.m.
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