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Necessity defense wins DUI case

Over the last 40 years Steve and Jacy Thayer have tried and won just about every kind of DUI case imaginable. Most cases, of course, are resolved by negotiating a reduction in charge. The negotiating objective in most cases is a reduction to negligent driving, which can save a license suspension and jail time, in addition to the stigma of a DUI conviction. Many other cases are resolved on pre-trial motions to suppress evidence or for dismissal. But the most memorable cases are always the ones that get tried.

While there is no substitute for experience, it never hurts to be creative. For example, a few years ago Mr. Thayer had a case where the client and his girlfriend were out drinking at the Dragon's Lair into the early morning. A group of undesirables started verbally harassing them. Due to his intoxication our client had planned on calling a cab, but feeling threatened decided they needed to leave instead. Their antagonists closely followed them out and surrounded them when they got to their car. Concerned for their safety, our client and his girlfriend, jumped into their car and drove away. About a block away they were stopped by the State Patrol for allegedly running a red light. Our client's breath test results exceeded a .20. The case looked hopeless. The police had probable cause to stop for the red-light infraction, probable cause to arrest because our client was clearly drunk, and there was no arguing with the computerized breath test results.

At trial Mr. Thayer raised and argued the legal defense of necessity. The necessity defense applies where the accused reasonably believed the commission of the crime (DUI) was necessary to avoid or minimize a greater harm - in this case being beaten and/or violated. Although Mr. Thayer had never read or heard of anyone using necessity as a defense in a DUI before, it certainly seemed appropriate, and the client was found not guilty.

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