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Acquittal of drunk driving charges is possible

Drivers in Virginia who are facing drunk driving charges may believe that they will have to suffer severe consequences, especially when the evidence points towards guilt. But this is not always the case.

Take for example, the recent acquittal of a politician. He was arrested on two misdemeanor counts, one for driving under the influence of alcohol, and the other for driving with a blood-alcohol-content (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Police say that they saw the driver weaving in and out of his lane, and failing to use his turn signals two times. They questioned him when he parked in a hotel parking lot. They say that the driver and his date smelled of alcohol, and that both had watery and bloodshot eyes.

They asked the driver to submit to a breath test which he initially refused. When the driver did take the BAC test, his blood-alcohol level was .08, which is at the legal limit for driving. According to police reports, the driver also failed three field sobriety tests.

However, at the jury trial the driver did have an expert witness who testified to the jury that the driver's blood was mishandled. The expert explained that as a result, the BAC test reading was most likely false.

In addition, several factors may have contributed to the failure of the field sobriety test, including wind, sloped pavement and error in administration of the test. The driver did not testify on his own behalf.

This story is important because at first glance the facts appear straightforward. However, once the driver's defense was presented, the jury acquitted him of DUI, and could not reach a decision as to the second criminal count regarding whether he was driving with a BAC of .08 resulting in a mistrial. This case presents a clear example of the ways in which individuals charged with DUI can walk away from the experience without a criminal record.

Source: MercuryNews.com, "Assemblyman acquitted on DUI charge stemming from Concord arrest," Maliaka Fraley, Aug. 27, 2012

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