Many people are unpleasantly surprised to learn that in Tennessee they can be charged with DUIs if they give intoxicated persons permission to drive their vehicles. Called DUI by consent, this charge can result in the same type of consequences associated with actually being caught drinking and driving. Because of this, it's even more critical to do everything you can do to avoid being convicted of what are essentially second-hand DUI charges. Here are a couple of ways to defend yourself in this type of case and avoid being punished for someone else's mistake.
Force the Prosecutor to Prove You Had Control and/or Prior Knowledge
To make DUI by consent charges stick, the prosecutor must prove you had control over and possession of the vehicle and that you gave permission to use it to the other person knowing the individual was intoxicated. Therefore, one way to kick the legs out from under the prosecutor's case is to prove either or both of these conditions are untrue.
For instance, unless you actually witnessed the person drinking or the individual told you how much alcohol he or she consumed, it can be difficult to determine if someone is too drunk to drive. This is particularly true when it comes to people who drink heavily, as these individuals may not display the same symptoms of intoxication as someone who drinks sparingly.
This is because many heavy drinkers develop a tolerance to the substance over time, which means they must progressively consume more and more alcohol to achieve the same affect. A heavy drinker could reach the legal DUI limit and not display any of the classic symptoms of intoxication, such as slurred speech and loss of motor control. If the person lies about drinking or became intoxicated after you gave the individual permission to use your vehicle, you may be able to plead ignorance to successfully defend against DUI by consent charges.
You could also defend against the charges if the person used your vehicle without your consent. For example, your lawyer may be able to convince the court your ability to give clear consent was compromised if you were passed out when the person took the keys.
Disprove the Prosecutor's Assertion the Driver was Drunk
The other way to defend yourself against DUI by consent charges is to help disprove the prosecutor's case against the person who was actually charged with driving drunk. For instance, if you can show the evidence used to prove the driver was intoxicated was faulty in some way, it may be thrown out. Since the prosecutor can no longer use that evidence to prove the driver was operating the vehicle while intoxicated, he or she may not be able to prove you gave permission to a drunk person to drive your car or truck.
There are several ways to dispute the accuracy or appropriateness of DUI evidence. One common way is to question the veracity of the tests. For instance, a breathalyzer test can give inaccurate readings if it hasn't been properly calibrated. False readings can also occur if the person being tested has diabetes or is following a low-carb diet. This is because the individual may be burning fat, which produces ketones. These ketones can be mistaken for ethanol by breathalyzer machines.
Another thing you can do is show the evidence was illegally obtained. For instance, police must have probable cause to pull people over on the roadways (e.g., speeding or weaving between lanes). If the police had no legal reason to stop you, then any evidence collected during or as a result of the stop may not be admissible in court.
There may be other ways you can defend yourself against DUI by consent charges. Contact a criminal defense attorney from a firm like O'Brien & Dekker for assistance.Share
20 May 2016
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