In criminal cases, “win” has various definitions. From one perspective, any outcome that results in less than the maximum punishment is a win. DUI cases offer a great deal of flexibility here. If the state’s evidence is strong, a St. Paul criminal defense attorney can often arrange a penalty offset. For example, the state might reduce the drivers’ licenses suspension period if the defendant pays a larger fine.
If the state’s evidence is weak, the defendant has even more negotiating leverage. Many times, a St. Paul DUI attorney might engineer a plea to reckless driving or another lesser-included offense. Although it is still a misdemeanor, reckless driving does not have the same collateral consequences as DUI.
However, to most people, “winning” a DUI usually means a not-guilty verdict at trial. While every case is different, there are some statistics which offer insight into this question. The numbers vary according to the type of DUI.
In DUI arrests, officers may obtain search warrants and extract blood samples from defendants. Statistically, blood test DUIs are not quite legal slam dunks, but they are close. The state wins over 95 percent of these cases.
The limited defenses often involve either procedural issues or different re-test outcomes.
From an evidentiary standpoint, DUI blood sample cases have lots of moving parts. The sample usually goes from a remote clinic to a police lab to the police station to the courthouse. Along the way, people often forget to log the evidence properly, or they may make other handling mistakes.
Since the blood test preserves the sample, a St. Paul criminal defense attorney can demand a re-test. Many times, the results of this examination are different from the results that the police technician claimed to have found.
These cases are also hard to win, from an absolute standpoint. The state prevails in about 85 percent of the DUI trials which involve Breathalyzer test results.
There are several reasons that the breath test conviction rate is lower than the blood test conviction rate, even though they are both chemical tests. Today’s Breathalyzer uses basically the same technology as a 1950s Drunk-o-Meter. If you wanted to watch the Super Bowl, would you rather watch it on a cutting-edge flatscreen TV or one of those black-and-white tube sets from the I Love Lucy days?
Moreover, the Breathalyzer does not measure Blood Alcohol Content, which is the legal standard in Minnesota. Instead, Breathalyzers measure breath alcohol content and use that figure to estimate BAC. That extra step is troublesome, especially if there is a specific flaw in that particular case.
To highlight these general and specific flaws, St. Paul criminal defense attorneys often call chemists to the witness stand. These witnesses have much more clout with a Ramsey County jury than the Breathalyzer technicians which prosecutors rely on.
If the defendant refuses to provide a chemical sample but performs field sobriety tests, the conviction rate plummets by almost half, to roughly 45 percent.
It is almost always harder to win criminal cases with circumstantial evidence, and that’s certainly true with regard to the DUI field sobriety tests. The three approved FSTs are:
Officers may also administer unapproved tests, like the Romberg balance test. But these unapproved tests have no scientific basis, so a good St. Paul criminal defense attorney can often exclude their results.
Many Ramsey County prosecutors do not even try to take complete refusal tests to trial. The conviction rate is only about 35 percent. That’s because the prosecutor must rely on even weaker circumstantial evidence of intoxications, like:
At best, this evidence only establishes alcohol consumption. In criminal court, there is a big difference between consumption and intoxication. And, the prosecutor must use this evidence to prove intoxication beyond a reasonable doubt. Lots of luck with that.
There are a number of ways to win a DUI case. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul criminal defense attorney, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.