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What defenses are available for a drunk driving charge?

When motorists in Iowa and elsewhere are stopped by law enforcement, this can trigger some anxiety. Drivers are faced with more emotions and concerns if the traffic stop has resulted in charges. If an officer suspects that a motorist is under the influence of alcohol, he or she could be charged with an OWI. While this is considered a traffic offense, it is a charge that could result in significant consequences, especially if a driver has a record of past drunk driving charges. Thus, determining the best course of attack when it comes to initiating a defense is imperative.

What defenses are available for a drunk driving charge? Depending on the situation that led up to the drunk driving allegations, a motorist might have a wide variety of defense options. The first option is to consider whether an affirmative defense exists. This means that a motorist admits that the allegations occur but there is a defense for them. Common affirmative defenses include necessity, duress, entrapment, mistake of fact and involuntary intoxication.

In the likely event that an affirmative defense does not exist, a motorist could assert one of the six common drunk driving defenses. The first is an improper stop, which is also the most common. This is when a police officer lacked probable cause to conduct a traffic stop. Next are errors in the administration or accuracy of a field sobriety test, portable Breathalyzer test or standard Breathalyzer test. The fifth is mistakes in the administration or chain of custody of a blood test. Finally, a defendant could assert a defense for rising blood alcohol concentration, which claims that the driver's BAC was below the legal limit but increased from the time of the traffic stop until the administration of a breath test.

Initiating a defense against an OWI is never easy; however, it is an important step to take. This not only ensures that the rights of a driver are protected but also helps a defendant reduce or dismiss the charges against them. Thus, becoming informed about your options is the best way to protect your future and avoid harsh penalties.

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IOWA Association for justice IOWA state bar association NACDL 1958 national association of criminal defense lawyers american association for justice board certified specialist DUI defense law the iowa state bar association


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