Underage Drunk Driving Defenses
Drinking and driving is never wise, but if you are underage, it's an even worse idea. That's because, under the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, you must be 21 or older to legally consume alcohol. Therefore, if you are under 21 and caught drinking and driving, you could face two separate charges—one for driving under the influence (DUI), and another for underage possession of alcohol. Fortunately, should this happen, there are many possible underage drunk driving defenses that can be used to challenge your arrest and help you avoid the life-altering consequences of an underage DUI conviction.
Was There Probable Cause To Pull You Over?
For example, did you know that a police officer must have probable cause to pull a person over? In other words, you should only be stopped if you are violating the law in some way—such as running a red light or speeding, for instance. If the officer who arrested you is unable to prove that he or she had sufficient legal grounds to stop you, the judge will most likely dismiss your case as a result.
Assuming the stop was justified, the officer must then establish yet another probable cause requirement. This time, he or she must prove that he or she had reason to suspect you were under the influence of alcohol at the time you were stopped. Some valid reasons that might warrant this suspicion include smelling alcohol on your breath and/or noticing an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. Once again, if the officer is unable to meet this requirement, the charges against you are likely to be dismissed in court.
Dismissing Your Case Due To Failed Protocol
Aside from questioning whether the probable cause standard was met in your case, there may be other ways to challenge your arrest. If the officer failed to read you your Miranda rights before he or she placed you under arrest, your case may be dismissed. Likewise, you may be able to suppress your breathalyzer test results if you were denied the opportunity to have an independent physician conduct the test. And, even if all of your rights are upheld, you may still be able to challenge the arresting officer's observations with the use of an expert witness.