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In an era when police and prosecutors increasingly rely on technology to bolster drunk driving cases, the prospect for successfully defending against a charge of drunk driving may seem daunting. How, after all, does one argue with a Breathalyzer or a blood sample?

However, it is still possible to present a meaningful defense against a drunk driving prosecution in New York. The foundation for many defenses to drunk driving allegations is the recognition that human beings by nature make mistakes, and that police officers are human beings. 

Even the technology that they use to support those allegations is built, operated and maintained by human beings.

When this basis of human fallibility is combined with the principle that the prosecution must convince jurors beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a DUI offense, there is a possibility that an effectively-prepared defense can prevail.

Consider some of the ways for defense attorneys to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors:

  • Did the police officer have sufficient legal reason to pull the driver over in the first place?
  • Did the police officer who performed a Breathalyzer test perform the test correctly? Was he or she properly trained to administer the test? Was the equipment properly maintained and calibrated?
  • Was any blood sample properly handled while in law enforcement custody? Any question of negligence in the chain of custody of the sample can raise a point of contention for the defense.

The above are only a few of the possible defenses. Each case of a drunk driving defense is unique, with its own facts and raising its own specific considerations for a defense attorney. This post cannot cover all the defense variations, or go into the level of detail to constitute legal advice.

What it is meant to do is to show you that just because police are using high-tech gear does not make them, or their equipment, infallible. A defense attorney could help people facing DUI charges in New York explore the propriety, the methodology, and the accuracy of the means that the police rely on to support a drunk driving accusation. He or she may also know how to raise questions about all of the above, and more, in the minds of a jury.


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