Drunk driving is a common criminal infraction that can change the lives of many people every year. Some people are well aware of their intoxication and choose to drive drunk anyway. But there are many other people -- good, hard-working people -- who simply aren't aware of their intoxication. This is just one example of a circumstance that could lead to a suspected drunk driver successfully defending the charges against him or her.
One of the most common defenses against drunk driving charges is the concept of administrative negligence or the violation of a suspect's rights. In other words, the police acted improperly. This could happen because they failed to uphold the chain of custody for any evidence. It could happen because a Breathalyzer or other equipment wasn't properly calibrated or used. It could also happen because the police officer did not have probable cause to pull you over in the first place.
There are also a host of "affirmative" defenses, which outline some less common defenses. These include:
- Driving drunk out of necessity. For example, if a friend is having a medical emergency and you are out camping in a rural area with no cell service, then driving that person to a hospital -- even if drunk -- was a necessity.
- Driving drunk under duress. This is where someone forces you to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, such as by threatening physical harm.
- Other forms of police misconduct. If the police entrapped you or if they mistakenly identified you as a drunk driver when it was actually someone else, then these defenses could apply.
Source: FindLaw, "Defenses to Drunk Driving," Accessed Aug. 3, 2017