In Indiana, OWI, DUI, and DWI are terms that are used interchangeably to refer to the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. If you get charged with an OWI in Indiana, the consequences could be severe: fines, a suspended license, increased insurance premiums, and even jail time. For this reason, the first thing you should do when you’re accused of driving under the influence is to call a qualified Indianapolis DUI attorney who can help you fight your charges.
Challenging the Prosecution’s Use of Your Blood or Urine Samples
In Indiana, there are strict guidelines governing the administration of urine or blood tests. If the prosecution intends to use the results of your blood or urine test as evidence of your impaired driving, they bear the burden of showing that the test was administered in accordance to the Indiana Department of Toxicology guidelines.
It is common for police officers and the medical staff administering the test to make a mistake or to fail to follow procedures. Requesting all the evidence relating to the circumstances of your urine or blood test is an essential aspect of your OWI case, because the test results may be inadmissible at trial. And without hard evidence of your intoxication, there may be no case against you.
Your blood alcohol level may increase over several hours after your last drink. Thus, if you tested slightly above the legal limit while at the police station or a medical facility, you were most likely under the limit at the time of your arrest.
There is no law saying it’s illegal to be over the limit while in police custody—the crucial issue is whether you were over the limit while driving. In many cases, it’s possible to demonstrate that your blood alcohol level was within the legal limit while you were behind the wheel.
How to Defend Your Case if You Failed a Field Sobriety Test
All field sobriety tests must be administered in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) manual. If the prosecution fails to demonstrate that the arresting officer followed the NHTSA rules, the results of the field sobriety test may not be used against you. Your Indianapolis DUI lawyer can depose the arresting officer and determine whether he or she received proper training in the administration of field sobriety tests—many of them do not.
Additionally, your inability to successfully complete the field sobriety test may have nothing to do with your impairment. Instead, your poor results could have occurred because of:
- Cold, wind, or rain
- Uneven ground
- Distracting emergency lights
- Stress, frustration, or anxiety
- Improper footwear
- Your general lack of balance or coordination
Challenging the Basis for Your Traffic Stop
You may be able to avoid an OWI conviction if you can demonstrate that the officer who stopped you had no lawful reason for doing so. Through a careful deposition and cross-examination of the arresting officer, it may emerge that he or she had no basis for the initial traffic stop. As a result, your OWI charges might be dropped.
For example, many drivers get pulled over because their weaving raised a suspicion of impairment. However, if you are merely weaving within your lane, this is generally not a sufficient reason for pulling you over. And even if your weaving was pronounced enough to give rise to the suspicion of impairment, it can have innocent explanations, such as a mechanical defect with your vehicle or poor road conditions.
Minimizing the Effect of a Failed Breathalyzer Test
To successfully convict your for OWI, the state must show that the arresting officer had probable cause to administer a field sobriety, Breathalyzer, or blood or urine test. The case against you will likely cite your glassy and bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, slow responses, and slurred speech as factors giving rise to a probable cause of your impairment.
When you contact an Indianapolis DUI attorney, he or she may be able to demonstrate that these symptoms had causes unrelated to the consumption of alcohol. For example, someone who is suffering from a cold or from fatigue may exhibit many of the same symptoms as someone who is intoxicated. Further, the smell of alcohol is not indicative of being intoxicated: most people will smell like alcohol after a single drink.
When a Breathalyzer test occurs under ideal conditions, there is a margin or error of +/- .02. If your results were only slightly over the legal limit, you may be able to escape a conviction because of the inherent inaccuracy of this sort of test. Additionally, the results of a Breathalyzer test may be inaccurately high when you’ve had cough syrup, mouthwash, or when you’ve recently consumed a small amount of alcohol.
How an Indianapolis DUI Lawyer Can Help
Many people charged with OWIs make the mistake of hiring a general practice attorney to defend their case. While it’s possible for an inexperienced attorney to learn the intricacies of Indiana’s OWI laws and procedures, a dedicated Indianapolis DUI lawyer will be able to act quickly and decisively in countering the prosecution’s case.
Based in downtown Indianapolis, Hessler Law is the answer when you need effective legal representation to fend of criminal charges. Our experienced Indianapolis DUI attorneys have a proven track record of getting good results for clients charged with OWIs and other vehicle-related crimes. If you need help with an Indiana OWI charge, you can call us today at (317) 886-8800 for a free phone consultation of your case.