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What are common defenses against drunk driving charges?

When a West Virginia or Pennsylvania driver is arrested on a charge of drunk driving, regardless of the jurisdiction, it can begin to feel as if you are Alice sliding down a slick rabbit hole. If it's the first time you've ever been taken into custody, the processes can be confusing and are very likely overwhelming.

Panic is an easy state to reach, but before it sets in, the thing to keep in mind is that you have a right to an attorney. And to protect your rights, contacting an experienced lawyer should be the commitment you make to yourself and what should be top of mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the evidence gathering process that authorities tend to follow is one that tends to be cumulative. That is, it usually begins with a traffic stop. That might lead to your being asked to submit to an array of field sobriety tests. In West Virginia, the law requires that you be informed that refusing to submit to testing will cost you your license for at least 45 days. All this might happen before you are formally charged with a crime.

That may all seem daunting, but those with experience know that the volume of activity also represents potential opportunities to mount a viable defense. Depending on state law, it might be possible to present an affirmative defense. It's more common, though, to challenge evidence-gathering methods.

For example, it is fair to ask whether the arresting officer had reason to stop your vehicle in the first place. If field sobriety tests were administered, it's fair to question if the officer conducted them correctly. If a breath tester was used, it had better have been properly calibrated. If it wasn't, the results may deserve to be challenged.

There may be other means of challenging the state's case, as well. By consulting an attorney a charged individual can learn what viable options might exist.

Source: FindLaw, "Defenses to Drunk Driving," accessed Nov. 6, 2015

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