DC DUI Arrest Misconceptions

Although DUI charges are relatively prevalent in Washington, DC there are a number of popular misconceptions regarding DUI arrests. Below an experienced DC DUI lawyer dispels two popular DUI arrest myths and what officers are looking for when they suspect someone of impairment. To learn more about DUI arrests and your rights, call and schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

Myth: Officers Can Not Justify A DUI Arrest Unless You Are Drunk

False. One of the most prevalent myths regarding DUI charges in that a person needs to be drunk in order to be charged and convicted for a DUI. The misconception in this is that DUI is a drunk-driving offense, it is not. It is actually an “impaired” driving offense.

With this in mind, the actual standard is simply appreciable impairment which simple means you are impaired to a noticeable degree by the consumption of alcohol, drugs, medication, or a combination of the three.

A DUI charge by its very nature is completely subjective and up to the discretion of the police officer who is doing the testing. This means that charges of driving under the influence are not as predictable as other charges such as possession of a weapon charges, and it also means that the subjectivity of the tests to determine whether or not someone is impaired are more open to challenge by defense attorneys compared to some other offenses.

Myth: It Is Hard For An Officer To Tell If I Am Slightly Buzzed

False. The term “slightly buzzed” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some people who are slightly buzzed appear to be completely sober and can drive in a perfect manner, perform field sobriety tests in a perfect manner, and talk and answer questions in a perfect manner.

However, on the flip side of that, many people who have had even just one or two drinks may in the officer’s impression still show signs of what they consider to be impairment. That can include things like not being able to perform absolutely flawlessly in a very complicated field sobriety test that the person wouldn’t even be able to do sober.

What an officer looks for to determine whether or not they consider a person impaired is not necessarily what a normal person would think of as signs of impairment. For that reason, an officer’s determination that a person is impaired based on a 10 minute observation and field sobriety testing can be missing important factors that defense attorneys can use to challenge the officer’s perceptions.

So because the standard for a police officer to just make an arrest is relatively low, it does not take very much evidence at all to be able to simply arrest someone on suspicion of driving under the influence. However, that evidence is not necessarily enough to be able to convince the judge that there is no reasonable doubt that you are actually impaired to an appreciable degree by your consumption of alcohol.