All states attempt to curtail drunk driving by imposing various penalties on drivers. Drivers in Tampa, Florida, can face some stern penalties, including jail time and loss of license. However, drivers who get charged may use some defenses to fight the charges.
Standard defenses to drunk driving
If the officer conducted field sobriety tests, which check for impairment, the DUI defense may call them into question. Various conditions can make sobriety tests harder to pass for sober drivers, which include age, weight, anxiety, medical conditions, weather, and uneven terrain. Some medical conditions commonly cause the driver to appear intoxicated, such as allergies or epilepsy, and make following directions more complicated.
The breathalyzer tests officers use are not always accurate, especially if they have not been calibrated, which is required. The BAC limit in most states is .08, but medical conditions, such as diabetes, and everyday products, such as mouthwash, can skew results.
Officers need reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over to check for impairment and probable cause to make an arrest. If the officer didn’t legally pull a driver over or gather evidence for an arrest, the case could get dismissed.
Less common DUI defenses
While seldom applied in drunk driving cases, entrapment is an affirmative defense or trickery to make the defendant commit a crime. For example, entrapment may be applied if the officer told the visibly drunk driver to drive home after sleeping in a vehicle.
Another affirmative defense is duress, which means the driver was persuaded to drive drunk to avoid harm. Involuntary intoxication occurs when the driver has become intoxicated without their consent or knowledge, such as spiked drinks. A driver can also claim they drove drunk because they had to drive and there was no other choice.
The prosecution must prove the driver was beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a strong case with some valid defenses can throw some doubts at the prosecution.