Often, an officer’s testimony of erratic driving is the most devastating piece of evidence against a person charged with DUI. Just as often, DUI defense attorneys will overlook this evidence or make the decision not to cross examine on the issue, lest attention of the bad driving be highlighted before the jury. This article will examine ways to attack “bad driving” and place it in a proper context so that the jury will see the defendant’s actions as normal.
Distracted driving has become a major issue in America. Newer cars are loaded with complex audio systems, compact disc changers, navigation systems, cruise control, cell phones, text messages, integrated telephone and video players. A jury should hear that your client was not weaving in his or her lane due to impairment, but because of one of the many distractions we all are familiar with. It would be far better for your client to admit to an innocuous activity like trying to text rather than conceding the issue of bad driving.
In his article “Drunk or Drowsy? How Fatigue Can Be Mistaken for Intoxication” Steve Oberman points out that the United States Department of Transportation states that 56,000 crashes per year are caused by drowsiness (1996 statistics). Being sleepy can cause slower reaction time, reduced vigilance while driving and deficits in information processing. See D. Dinges, An Overview of Sleepiness and Accidents, J. Sleep Res. 4(2), 4-14 (1995). If your client is involved in a one-car accident or the officer notes vigilance problems you can argue that it was not impairment but drowsiness that caused the issue.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set forth 24 Clues of Impaired Driving in the Student Manual and instructs officers to note these clues when observing a potential drunk driver. An experienced attorney will use this list of clues to demonstrate that his or her client did well by not exhibiting the vast majority of clues. This cross examination by omission is very effective when used in conjunction with other techniques described above.
Dayton DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671. For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook, www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube. You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.
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