Top 5 Ways to Beat a Delaware DUI

In the State of Delaware most DUI cases are heard and tried in the Court of Common Pleas. The Court of Common Pleas judges are generally very knowledgeable about DUI cases and the technical aspects of a DUI prosecution. It is possible to beat or be found “not guilty” of a DUI charge in the State of Delaware. This page will discuss what I believe are the top five ways to attack a DUI prosecution in Delaware.

1. No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop the Vehicle

In Delaware a police officer needs "reasonable articulable suspicion" that you are breaking a law to pull your vehicle over. If the officer does not have this suspicion and made an illegal stop, all the evidence in the case following the stop will be thrown out. Traffic offenses are the most common way for a police officer patrolling for DUIs to stop you. The officer can trail your vehicle for an unlimited amount of time in Delaware. He can pull you over if he observes a single traffic offense. However, here are a few technicalities to watch out for that could help you beat your Delaware DUI:

  • swerving within your lane is not a violation
  • crossing over lane lines per Delaware code is not necessarily a violation in Delaware
  • there is no specific number of car lengths or trailing distance that you have to maintain for the charge of Following a vehicle too closely. Your following distance must be reasonable based on the conditions.
  • for speeding violations, the police officer must have the tuning forks of his radar device calibrated and provide those records to the defense.
2. Probable Cause to Arrest

Before the police can arrest you and administer a breath test or blood test, they must have “probable cause to arrest.” Probable cause to arrest for DUI is defined in Delaware as a "fair probability that the Defendant drove under the influence." If the police do not have probable cause, all the fruits of the arrest including the breath test will be suppressed. If the police lack probable cause you will win the case. The courts will look to a totality of the circumstances. In Delaware an odor of alcohol, blood shot glassy eyes and admitting to drinking alone is not enough for probable cause.

3. Discovery Violations

In Delaware, if the police lose or destroy any piece of evidence the court may assume that the missing evidence would be favorable to the defendant. So, let's say the police negligently did not preserve the MVR or "dash cam video" of the DUI. The court may presume that everything on the video would be favorable to the defense. This would result in your acquittal.

Another way to beat a Delaware DUI on a discovery violation is late disclosure of evidence. One of the first things that my office does is send out a discovery letter requesting all the evidence from the prosecutor. Usually, the prosecutor will respond by sending a discovery packet with the police report. However, the prosecutor could forget to provide a piece of evidence or part of a report and throw it on defense counsel's table the day of trial. At that point the trial judge has the power to 1) order that the discovery be produced; 2) grant a continuance or 3) exclude the evidence. Defense counsel should always ask to exclude the evidence on the day of trial. If this motion is granted, it could help you beat your DUI.

4. Compelled Field Sobriety Tests

In Delaware a police officer must request rather than demand that a suspect do field sobriety tests or roadside tests. This law is unique to Delaware. Anything spoken, suggested or implied that turns a request to do field sobriety tests into a demand will result in suppression of the field sobriety tests. Once the field sobriety tests are suppressed, the police officer will lack probable cause to arrest and all after-acquired evidence including the breath test will be suppressed.

5. Refusal Case - Lack of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

When you refuse a blood or breath test in a DUI case, the State of Delaware can still prosecute you for DUI under an impairment theory. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were less able to drive your vehicle than you ordinarily would have been because of consumption of alcohol. This can be a difficult task for the prosecution if the defendant refused field sobriety tests or performed well on field sobriety tests.

Contact Us

Contact Jason R. Antoine, Delaware DUI Lawyer if you or someone you know is facing a DUI prosecution within the State of Delaware. He has an arsenal of technical knowledge and different ways to challenge a Delaware DUI. You should hire a lawyer that has experience with DUIs and can recognize issues that will get you acquitted or result in a plea to a lesser traffic offense such as reckless driving. Call us today for a free consultation at 302-482-4802.

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