In every Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol case, there is at least one DUI investigation that is performed by the police. However, a diligent DUI attorney will perform their own DUI investigation to make certain their client's interests are protected.
DUI Investigations by Police
A DUI investigation by police frequently starts and stops with the stop of a car. Police stop someone for a perceived legal violation then proceed to question the driver. According to their reports, they may notice bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, dilated pupils, or driver agitation. Whatever they observe, this, they will write in their report, and they ask the driver if they have been drinking or if they might be under the influence of an over the counter drug, prescription drug, or illegal drug.
Next in their DUI investigation, the police will ask the driver to perform some roadside field sobriety tests. These tests purportedly provide information to the police about a person's impairment. After observing these roadside tests, the police will often ask a driver to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). If the PBT reports a value anywhere close to 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the police will place the driver under arrest. If the PBT reflects zero alcohol present in the system, police may call a “drug recognition expert” (DRE) to evaluate the driver to determine if they are possibly under the influence of some drug. If the DRE believes the driver may be under the influence of any drug, police will place the driver under arrest.
Subsequent to arrest, police will bring the driver to the station for either a breath test or a blood draw or urine test. The contents of the breath, blood, or urine will be tested to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the system.
At this point, the police investigation typically ends. The driver is charged with a DUI and the police never think of the incident again unless the case is set for a contested hearing or trial.
DUI Investigation by an Attorney
An attorney skilled in representing people charged with DUI does not rely solely on the DUI investigation performed by the police. Instead, they launch their own investigation.
The Legality of the Stop
The DUI attorney starts by evaluating the stop of the car, or the circumstances surrounding police interaction with the suspected driver. There are laws and constitutional principles governing police interactions with the citizens, and the initial interaction between the police and a driver must be carefully examined to ensure the police followed the law.
Next, the “detention” of the driver must be investigated. What did the police see that led them to question the driver about their use of alcohol or drugs? Are the police reports supported by actual data? If there was more than one police officer on the scene, do their reports mesh or are they different? Was the police officer wearing a body camera? Had the dash camera been operational? These recordings must be obtained and carefully reviewed to both ensure the constitutional rights of the driver have been protected, and to ensure the facts are as the police say they are.
The Collection of the Evidence
Police may take evidence collection for granted, but experienced DUI attorneys do not. From ensuring the police waited the 20 minutes required before asking for a breath sample, to making sure the driver was watched continuously during this 20 minutes, to evaluating the alcohol content of the sterile wipe applied to a person's arm before taking blood from a vein, an experienced DUI attorney leaves no stone unturned. Every step of the evidence collection process is carefully examined to ensure the evidence has been collected properly. If the evidence was not collected properly, the test results may be suspect.
Investigating Evidence Testing
Testing blood, breath, and urine for the presence of alcohol, drugs, or inhalants isn't magic, it's science. As such, the process itself is subject to scientific scrutiny. Did the government use the proper tubes for collecting the blood? Was the breath machine properly calibrated on the schedule recommended by the manufacturer? Were the proper controls used? Did they perform as expected? What was the temperature in the room? How long did the suspect blow into the breath tube?
Test results must also be carefully evaluated. Things are not always as they seem. Without careful scrutiny by the defense counsel, an important investigative tool is lost.
Leaving No Stone Unturned
A dedicated DUI attorney doesn't just trust the government when they say they have the evidence necessary to convict a driver of a DUI. Instead, they carefully review every police report, watch every video in existence, and pour over the test results as well as the underlying data supporting the test results, looking for evidence that is inconsistent with the government's theory of the case. A proper DUI case investigation requires leaving no stone unturned.
Are You Facing DUI Charges?
If you are facing DUI charges, you don't have to face them alone. Our experienced Roswell and Alpharetta DUI attorneys know where to look and what to ask for to properly investigate DUI cases from beginning to end. We answer calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have a question about how your DUI case was investigated by the police, or if you think you would benefit from the detailed investigative practices of our DUI attorneys, contact us today to set up a free consultation. We look forward to talking to you soon.