Are DUI Charges Ever Dismissed?
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, you need to understand how serious this charge is and the potential penalties you’ll face if convicted. However, just because you were charged with a crime doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty by a judge. Any DUI charge is worth fighting, but this should only be done along with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help you tackle questions like, “Can my DUI charge be dismissed?” or “Can my DUI charge be expunged?”
As a DUI defense attorney at Guilfoil Law Group, I’m able to serve clients in the Kansas City, Missouri area including Clay County, Platte County, Jackson County, or anywhere in the state. Reach out to me today to get started on your defense.
The Exclusionary Rule
One important legal concept to understand is called the exclusionary rule. Regarding a DUI charge, this rule can effectively exclude certain evidence if it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful searches and seizures. For example, an arresting officer needs to have probable cause for pulling you over on suspicion of impaired driving. This could mean they observed you speeding, swerving, driving erratically, but could also include violations like a broken taillight or failing to signal a turn. If, after pulling you over, they found evidence you were intoxicated, they would then have legal standing to proceed with the arrest. However, if they aren’t able to show probable cause for stopping you in the first place, a judge would have to dismiss any evidence that was acquired in connection with that stop, even if they found evidence of impairment.
Reasons for a DUI Dismissal
The exclusionary rule isn’t the only option for having your charge dismissed, though challenging the validity of the traffic stop itself is an ideal place to start. Some charges may be dismissed based purely on factual errors on the police report. For example, if the officer noted the incorrect license plate number or the incorrect time of the stop, you may have grounds to question the accuracy of the rest of the report. Another common defense is challenging the results of a chemical test. Many officers have handheld breathalyzer tests and while these are often quite accurate, they can produce false results if they’re calibrated incorrectly or not maintained. It may also be the case that the officer administered the test incorrectly and therefore any results would have to be dismissed.
You may also be able to question the use of field sobriety tests (for example, the one-leg stand or horizontal gaze nystagmus). These are used by officers in lieu of or in addition to a breath test to determine your level of impairment, but they can be unreliable. These tests are very subjective and factors other than intoxication can lead to a “failed” test. Finally, if the arresting officer didn’t actually see you driving the car (for instance, if there was an accident and they showed up later to the scene), you may be able to have your charges dismissed if the officer can’t prove you were actually the one driving.
After Getting a DUI Charge, Will It Ever Get Off My Record?
DUI charges can eventually be expunged, but this will vary based on your circumstances. For a first offense, your DUI may be expunged from your record after five years. For second or third offenses, this may take 10 years. Importantly, this doesn't happen automatically. You should work with an attorney to file a petition with the courts.
How an Attorney Can Help
Working with a skilled DUI attorney can mean the difference between a conviction and dismissal. Even if you are found guilty, a lawyer may be able to help lessen the penalties you’ll face. Either way, obtaining legal guidance and representation should be your first step anytime you’re facing charges like this.
Get Skilled Legal Support Today
If you’re in the Kansas City, Missouri area and want to know more about pursuing a dismissal for your DUI charge, contact Guilfoil Law Group for a consultation. During this difficult time, I’m here to help you move forward.