Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is against the law and can have serious consequences if you are arrested and convicted of the offense. However, you may be able to escape criminal prosecution by putting up a defense that challenges the arrest or keeps the prosecutor from presenting incriminating evidence at trial. To do that, you must know what defense strategies you can pursue to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Arguing You Weren't Driving
The prosecutor needs sufficient probable cause (evidence of a crime) to build a case against you. Therefore, unless a police officer sees you driving erratically, or observes another sign that you may be driving while under the influence, and pulls you over, lack of probable cause can help you get out of a drunk driving charge. Even if you had been drinking, if a police officer approaches and finds you sitting behind the wheel of your parked vehicle with the engine turned off, he or she can't prove you were driving drunk.
In a case where the arresting officer can establish probable cause for stopping your vehicle because he or she suspected you were driving while intoxicated, the judge may not allow the evidence to be presented at trial. An example would be if you received no Miranda warning (your rights) before a police officer questioned you or took you into police custody.
Explaining Your Behavior and the Way You Look
The arresting officer's observations and opinions related to your behavior and appearance often account for much of the evidence against you. However, you have the right to challenge what the officer thought he or she saw and present evidence to the contrary. Bloodshot eyes, running a red light, or crossing the center line do not necessarily mean you were driving drunk.
For example, if you were arrested after leaving a restaurant where you had dinner with friends, you have witnesses who can testify you did not drink any alcoholic beverages while there and appeared sober when you drove off in your vehicle. The witnesses also may assert you have allergies or had a cold that night, explaining your bloodshot eyes. Or, you can argue you ran a red light because your attention was distracted from the road while you were driving, in which case your attorney may be able to get the DWI charge (a criminal offense) reduced to a lesser traffic violation.
Challenging Sobriety Test Results
The results of the field sobriety and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests a police officer may administer generally are major factors in the evidence the prosecutor presents to the court. But just as you can challenge the arresting officer's observations, you can challenge the accuracy of field sobriety and chemical sobriety test results.
Field sobriety tests, which are based on the arresting officer's observations, can be misleading. You can be sober and fail field sobriety tests because you have back problems, bad knees, or another health problem that affects your gait, balance, and coordination. Maybe you were simply tired or nervous.
Since the court needs sufficient evidence to convict you, if the arresting officer did not tell you that submitting to sobriety tests is optional, your attorney may be able to get the test results thrown out as evidence. Also, because states have laws regarding how police officers are required to administer the tests and calibrate sobriety testing equipment, you may be able to get the charges dismissed or the test results suppressed. However, you must be able to prove a testing device was defective or that an officer did not follow the proper procedure for giving you a sobriety test. In some cases, your attorney may be able to prove that you ate foods or took medications that led to false readings or inaccurate chemical sobriety test results.
If you need a DWI attorney for your case, contact David A. Mansfield.