There are several common defenses to a DUI, but an emergency situation is not one of them. This is not to say that an emergency situation is never a defense to a DUI, only that it is not as common as others, such as an improper traffic stop. While it is true that an emergency can be used as a defense to a DUI charge, the circumstances are very limited. However, the prosecution and a judge will look at the situation surrounding the alleged crime when determining whether or not the accused should be convicted.
There are only two circumstances that will serve as a viable defense in an emergency situation. These are justification and duress.
Justification for the DUI
When using the justification defense, a criminal defense lawyer will argue that it was reasonable for someone to drive under the influence because there was not another option. For example, two friends are working on the roof of a house in a rural area. They have had a few beers while they work. One friend falls off the roof and is significantly injured. The area is very rural and so, there is no cellphone access. There also are not any neighbors for miles.
In this situation, it could be argued that there was no other alternative except that the uninjured person drives while under the influence. If they did not, their friend’s injuries could have gotten worse, or they may have even died if they were hurt badly enough. This scenario could provide justification for a DUI.
Duress as a DUI Defense
Defendants and their criminal defense lawyer can also use the duress defense for a DUI charge in certain situations. This defense states that a person felt threatened or needed to avoid a dangerous situation and so, the only way to do that was to drive, even though they were under the influence.
For example, a woman is living with her husband and their relationship involves domestic violence. One late night, the man becomes so violent that the woman fears for her life. Even though she had been drinking, she grabs the keys and flees from the home, getting into the vehicle and driving away.
In this instance, it could be argued that she was escaping a dangerous situation and so, had no choice. Even if neighbors were close, it was very late, and it is possible that the woman believed the man would still have time to come and take her back home if she had gone to a neighbor for help. This could provide a possible duress defense to a DUI charge.
Get the Defense You Need from a Criminal Defense Attorney
There are many possible defenses to a DUI charge, and an emergency situation is one of them. However, just because it was an emergency does not mean the charge will automatically go away. If you have been charged with a DUI, regardless of the circumstances, you need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, like a Civic Center San Francisco, CA DUI lawyer from Hallinan Law Firm. Do not take your case on alone. Call a law firm today for your free consultation to learn more about how they can help.