OUI charges are very difficult for the government to prove. Due to political pressure, the District Attorney’s office will almost always go forward with prosecution even in cases where a successful motion to dismiss or an acquittal at trial is likely. When I first meet with an OUI client, my immediate priority is to establish a timeline of events in order to determine the weaknesses in the government’s case. There will be weaknesses in the government’s evidence; the question is how helpful those weaknesses are to your defense.
These are just a few of the ways that OUI charges present challenges for the prosecution:
- Higher probability of police mistakes. Police interaction with OUI suspects is quick, unplanned, and easily forgotten by the officers. Often police stop and search vehicles without proper legal justification, which can provide a basis for a successful motion to suppress evidence or to dismiss the case entirely. The police paperwork often contains mistakes as well, which can be fatal to an OUI case, where details are so important.
- The symptoms of impairment may be symptoms of something else. Fatigue, a medical condition, and nervousness are just a few reasons that someone might have bloodshot eyes, be unsteady on their feet, and perform less than perfectly on “field sobriety tests”. Often, the officers’ reasons for concluding that a suspect was intoxicated do not transfer well to courtroom testimony.
- The defendant may be a more credible witness than the police. Many OUI defendants are law-abiding citizens who have never been in trouble with the law. Jurors may relate to the defendant and recognize that confronted with the threat of arrest, they might also be too nervous to perform field sobriety tests perfectly.
Many people arrested for OUI are not drunk drivers, but merely citizens pulled over by the police and arrested on the basis of their performance on outlandish coordination tests. An experienced OUI defense attorney can advise you as to weaknesses in the government’s evidence that may not be obvious, and recommend a strategy to maximize your chance of beating the charges.