Long a staple of many a general law practice, defending clients charged with drunken driving has evolved into a more complex and specialized field.
The changes track the ever-more sophisticated technology used to detect impaired drivers and a cultural shift that has raised the severity of punishment and imposed a stigma on those arrested.
More states now mandate license revocation, alcohol evaluation and treatment, and jail time or house arrest for a conviction for DUI, also known as driving under the influence. (In some jurisdictions, the offense is known as DWI, or driving while intoxicated.) As the stakes increase, defense attorneys need detailed knowledge of how Breathalyzers work, about the physiology of the human body, and about the intricacies of field sobriety tests, say lawyers who represent DUI defendants.