The Law Office of James Novak

Motions to Suppress Evidence in DUI Cases

Lawyer Helping Phoenix Residents Defend Against Drunk Driving Charges

Sometimes it's appropriate to bring a motion to suppress evidence in a DUI case. A motion to suppress lets the court know that there is a legal justification to exclude a particular type of evidence from being presented at trial. Often motions to suppress in DUI cases are efforts to suppress the results of a breath or blood test, or to suppress evidence obtained after the stop was initiated. If you have been charged with drunk driving, an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney can explore all options for your defense, and tailor a strategy to your individual circumstances.

Motions to Suppress Evidence in DUI Cases

Like other crimes, DUIs must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. That means every element must be established such that jurors have no reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt. In order to establish a DUI, the prosecution needs strong evidence. The results of a Breathalyzer or chemical test obtained appropriately may be admissible and serve to establish guilt in a DUI case. However, there are situations in which a defendant's constitutional rights have been violated and it may be possible to bring a motion to suppress evidence. Without crucial evidence like the results of a chemical test, the prosecutor may not be able to meet its burden of proof. In that case, it may be possible to get the charges dismissed under the exclusionary rule, and a skilled DUI lawyer can help.

Grounds for Suppressing Evidence

Under the Arizona Rules of Procedure you may be able to file a motion to suppress evidence under particular circumstances. The motion has to be justified. Some common grounds on which to bring a motion to suppress evidence include lack of probable cause, unlawful search and seizure, violations in how a urine, blood, or breath test was handled or labeled or processed, or constitutional rights were violated.

Police officers must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing or a traffic violation in order to pull you over. It is illegal to pull you over on a mere hunch. If you were pulled over illegally, it may be possible to get all the evidence from the stop suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree. This means that the only evidence the prosecutor would be able to present would relate to the defendant’s driving. After a successful motion, the prosecutor would not be able to present chemical test results or field sobriety test evidence, or talk about what you looked like when you were pulled over.

Sometimes a motion to suppress is brought only in connection with particular tests. For example, if the blood was drawn inappropriately or the way the lab tested the blood was inappropriate such that its not scientifically reliable, it may be possible to get the test results suppressed. The prosecutor may still be able to use other evidence, but his or her case may be weakened.

In still other cases, a field sobriety test may be administered inappropriately, such that you can get those test results suppressed. However, as with a motion to suppress in connection with urine, blood, or breath tests, the prosecutor may still have sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Good Faith Exception

It's important to be aware that under A.R.S. section 13-3925, evidence won't be suppressed where the prosecution is able to show that a police officer's conduct was based on a reasonable good faith belief that his actions were appropriate. Under the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule, some evidence that would otherwise be suppressed is allowed to go forward. For example, where an officer misstated the law, but at the time he made the statement, he was correct, and the Supreme Court only later issued a decision changing the state of the law as it's understood, the good faith exception will generally apply.

Consult a DUI Defense Attorney in Phoenix

If you were charged with a DUI, you should take it seriously. It is advisable to retain a lawyer who can skillfully bring a motion to suppress evidence in a DUI case. James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who provides a tough, aggressive defense to those accused and charged with DUIs throughout the Phoenix area including Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.

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