Just because authorities charge a Washingtonian with a DUI does not mean the person is guilty. Take, for instance, Sam Donaldson, the veteran ABC news anchor and co-host, who was driving after having a glass or two of win last December. Police stopped the 79-year-old for a traffic violation. Following the stop, police concluded Donaldson had been drinking. They then put Donaldson through a series of field sobriety tests, before charging him with drunk driving.
That DUI charge was recently dismissed for insufficient evidence. The evidence was insufficient, according to the judge, because police did not have probable cause when they arrested Donaldson.
Insufficient evidence is just one of many reasons why a judge might dismiss a DUI charge. Others include when a police officer failed to follow proper procedure, conducted an improper blood draw or violated a person's constitutional rights. Any of these errors can lead a judge to invalidate evidence discovered as a result. Invalidated evidence can mean reduced or, like here, dismissed charges.
But errors at the scene are not the only way to contest a DUI charge. The results of a breath test or blood draw can also be challenged. For example, the test result might be inaccurate because of interferants, premature sampling, mouth alcohol, manner of breathing, failure to quantify uncertainty of the alcohol-concentration measurement and many other factors.
Given the benefits of identifying errors, Washingtonians charged with a DUI may benefit from discussing their case with an experienced DUI attorney who knows what errors to look for. Doing so may be the difference between a guilty plea, a reduced charged or a dismissed charge.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Sam Donaldson DUI charge dismissed," Nov. 9, 2013