The New York Criminal Law Blog

3 Potential Legal Defenses to DWI in New York

What are the legal defenses to a DWI in New York? DWIs, otherwise known as driving while intoxicated charges (DUIs in other states) are unfortunately common enough that they affect civilians and celebrities alike.

Take Dina Lohan, Lindsay's mom, for example, who was recently charged with speeding and driving under the influence on Long Island in September, according to Extra TV. What is Dina's DUI defense? Extra TV reports that apparently, Dina's driving behavior was a result of the stress caused by the paparazzi and media.

That excuse likely won't hold up in court for Lohan or anyone else. Here are three other actual legal defenses to a DWI that might:

  • No probable cause. One may be able to challenge his or her DWI arrest if the arresting officer did not have sufficient probable cause to stop you for drunk driving. Probable cause is a standard that requires a valid reason based on more than just a hunch. So, if you were stopped because you're a woman or due to your race and not because you displayed any signs of drunk driving, you may have a defense to your arrest.
  • Faulty lab results. New York's legal BAC limit is .08, and while you may not be able to challenge this, you can challenge your arrest as improper if it was based on faulty lab or technical results. This includes the breathalyzer, urinalysis, or any blood tests administered that may have lead to inaccurate results.
  • Affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses are a category of defenses that you can raise even if you've admitted to committing the accused crime. For example, a defendant charged with murder can admit to doing so but claim the affirmative defense of self-defense. With a DWI, some common affirmative defenses that may apply are involuntary intoxication (ex: someone spiked your drink or drugged you) or duress (ex: someone forced you into the car).

If the courts don't buy Mama Lohan's "blame it on the media" approach, perhaps she can look into hiring a better criminal defense attorney who might assert these defenses instead.

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