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Fighting a False DUI Charge Due to Law Enforcement Error

By Our Attorneys on September 13, 2017

A police officer intimidating a motorist during a traffic stopWhen people in Billings or Bozeman are wrongfully accused of drunk driving, it's important that they speak with skilled attorneys about their legal options. Our team of DUI lawyers have years of experience crafting defense strategies that reduce charges or help get them dropped.

Some of the defense strategies in drunk driving cases involve pointing out errors by police officers. They can happen during a stop, a sobriety test, or even back at the station. Let's consider how law enforcement errors can lead to false or mistaken DUI charges.

Law Enforcement Isn't Infallible

Even though many of us put our trust in law enforcement each day, the fact of the matter is that they're human just like the rest of us. Some members of law enforcement make mistakes, and other times police officers may simply be unqualified for a job that involves a lot of power and authority.

When police make mistakes or abuse their power, it can have lasting repercussions on your life. In the case of drunk driving charges, it can affect so many aspects of your day-to-day routine, and may even impact future employment opportunities.

Mistakes When Initiating Traffic Stops

Some common mistakes police officers make when stopping motorists include:

  • Lack of Evidence/No Probable Cause – Law enforcement sometimes pull over drivers without any evidence of intoxication or probable cause. If someone is driving safely and does not exhibit wild or erratic behaviors on the road, there is no reason to pull them over.

  • Pulling Over the Wrong Vehicle – Sometimes a police officer may mistake your vehicle for another person's vehicle. This can happen at night on highways or city streets. While you may have been driving perfectly fine and safely, this mistake can lead you to be pulled over and be subjected to a sobriety test.

  • Detaining a Driver for Too Long – Sometimes law enforcement will attempt to intimidate or inconvenience drivers in order to get their way. In these cases, the mistake is more of an abuse of power, and being detained at a traffic stop for too long should not be tolerated.

Mistakes When Testing a Driver's Sobriety

In addition to errors when making a traffic stop, law enforcement may make mistakes when conducting a sobriety test:

  • Relying on Field Sobriety Test Alone – A field sobriety test consists of techniques to assess coordination, balance, and mental faculties. It does not measure blood alcohol content. Failure of a field sobriety test alone cannot be used as a ground for a DUI charge or arrest.

  • Improper Use of a Breathalyzer – Breathalyzer tests are supposedly able to measure BAC. If a police officer makes a mistake while handling the breathalyzer device or gives a motorists incorrect instructions, this can lead to a false positive and a drunk driving charge.

  • Problems When Collecting Blood or Urine Samples – At the police station, a driver may provide blood or urine to check BAC. If these samples are collected improperly or contaminated, they can result in false positives. Blood and urine samples may even be mixed up with another driver's samples if officers are not attentive.

What Are My Legal Options for a False Drunk Driving Charge?

If you believe that you were wrongly charged with a DUI or that your rights were violated during a stop/arrest, you need to speak with a DUI attorney. Their insight into your case can help hold the officer accountable for their actions and help drop or reduce the charges leveled against you. Instead of going it alone, seek the guidance of a legal professional.

Contact Tipp Coburn Schandelson PC

To learn more about your legal rights and options when it comes to drunk driving cases, be sure to contact our team of experienced DUI attorneys today. We will help craft a strong legal defense, working diligently to drop or reduce your charges.

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2200 Brooks Street
Missoula, MT 59801

Open Today 8:30am - 5:30pm

More Info Directions (406) 549-5186