When you think of a drunken driver, you probably imagine someone staggering out of a bar at closing time and attempting to drive home, only to get arrested and thrown in jail. Some alleged offenses are less clear, though. What if you met your gal pals for lunch and just had a couple of drinks?

You may have had one too many — or the police may have erred in charging you. A couple of simple strategies can protect your rights and your record.

You can contest the stop

A law enforcement officer must have a good reason to stop your vehicle. However, most officers know how to make up a cause to pull you over. They can claim you jumped a red light or swerved across the center line.

An officer who does not have a valid reason for the traffic stop cannot use the evidence obtained after the fact against you. This includes their observations, your statements and test results. As a result, the prosecutor may choose to drop the charges.

You can contest the tests

A failed field sobriety test does not necessarily mean you are guilty. Police officers make mistakes. They may, for example, fail your turn-and-walk test after you stumble in high heels.

A failed breath alcohol test is not infallible, either. Some agencies do not maintain the devices; you can challenge the condition of the machine. The training of the person who administered the test is open to question, too.

You can contest your case

A DUI conviction can mean losing your license, which creates daily headaches. With so much at stake, contesting the charges often makes sense.

One distinction is important: Prosecutors must prove your guilt. You do not have to prove your innocence, only that the evidence against you is too weak for a conviction. Consider challenging police testimony and test results. A judge may side you with you if you can raise enough doubts about your case.