As a disclaimer, it is important to note that no two DUI cases are alike and the specific situation is determinative as to the proper defense in each individual case. Please bear this in mind as you read this.
This is the second posting in a planned series that will examine potential general defenses in DUI cases in Virginia.
Just about anyone who has watched television or movies is somewhat familiar with Miranda warnings. “You have the right to remain silent…” The warnings required by Arizona v. Miranda, decided in 1966 by the US Supreme Court, were designed to protect the accused’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. In other words, Miranda requires police to warn you upon arrest that anything you say can be used against you at trial before they begin to interrogate you. With that being stated, however, you should please note that there are numerous exceptions to the rule. For example, if you were to make a spontaneous statement that was not a result of police questioning, the statement is most likely still admissible at trial. Also, it must be stressed, your exercise of your right must be unequivocal to the police.
A Miranda violation, if proven, functions in your favor by excluding the evidence obtained in contravention of your rights from being admissible into evidence. Often, exclusion of key evidence through this avenue is enough to make a conviction difficult to obtain.
Impeaching the Arresting Officer’s Testimony
A skilled defense attorney can often find conflicting evidence through close examination of the facts and introduce doubt about what the arresting officer observed. It can be something as simple as paperwork errors that cause conflict with what the officer says at trial. For example, the officer can testify that he arrested you at 11:30 P.M. when, in his report, he wrote that you were arrested at 10:30 P.M when it should have been written as 11:30 P.M. This casts doubt on the validity of the officer’s testimony, especially if you can provide contradictory evidence that, for example, you have a credit card receipt showing that you bought gas at 10:45 P.M.
Another possible contradiction might be in the actual conditions when you were pulled over. For example, if the officer testifies you were pulled over on Route 123 at 1:30 A.M. right outside of Maclean because he saw you run a red light, a skilled DUI defense attorney might introduce evidence showing that the traffic light in question actually becomes a blinking yellow at 12:30 A.M., so it would be a physical impossibility to have run that particular light. The examples are limitless and are only constrained by the actual case at hand.
Conflicting Dash Cam Video
Typically, dash cam video is admissible at trial, provided it can be authenticated. However, what an arresting officer sees and remembers may be remarkably different from what a dash cam records. If the officer says he pulled you over for repeatedly weaving over both lines on the highway on multiple occasions, his dash cam video might well refute that observation. Police officers are human. They do make mistakes and their observations and memories are just as liable to be wrong as anyone else’s.
These are just a few on the long list of reasons why you should retain an experienced and skilled DUI attorney if you have been charged with DUI in Northern Virginia. Jad Sarsour has thousands of satisfied clients who have counted on him to preserve their rights in cases just like yours. Please give him a call today at (571) 316-2639 to schedule your initial consultation and begin building your defense now.