Common Mistakes Officers Make During DWI Arrests

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What am I obligated to do if I’ve been pulled for Drinking and Driving?”


In North Carolina, a driver can be charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI) if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or driving with an impairing substance or with any amount of a Schedule I substance in his or her system. DWIs are dangerous for all parties involved. As such, this is a serious charge that can result in severe consequences that impact one’s life. Even so, it is important that a driver arrested and charged with this crime is entitled to proper criminal procedure. Law enforcement officers are human; they too can make mistakes. If law enforcement makes a mistake while arresting a driver, this can be used to reduce charges or even dismiss a case. The following are common mistakes that officers might make during a DWI arrest.


beer-mugs-DWI-DUI-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Criminal-Defense-attorney-300x225Lack of Probable Cause

Police officers must have probable cause to make a traffic stop. This means that an officer must reasonably suspect that a driver is committing a traffic offense. Without probable cause, an officer is not able to pull over a vehicle. Police officers are not able to act on mere suspicion.


Sobriety Test Errors


After a police officer stops a car and suspects that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substance, he or she will often conduct Field Sobriety Tests. There are three common types of tests officers will conduct — one-legged stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus. These tests are designed to test the driver’s reactions/results to what an unimpaired driver would be like. The officers are looking for common signs of intoxication, like a lack of balance. When conducting these tests, officers are required to take various factors into consideration such weather, health of the driver, etc.


Another common test that officers will employ is a breathalyzer test. This actually tests the amount of alcohol in one’s system. An officer is required to have proper training and certification to administer a breathalyzer test. Tests need to be done directly in line with the standard procedures in order to be used in a court of law.


No Miranda Warnings


Miranda rights are those rights  to which every person who is being arrested is entitled — the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, any words will be used against you, etc. Officers are required to read these rights to someone being arrested. Without reading Miranda Rights, the defendant’s statements could possibly be inadmissible as evidence against the defendant during the court proceedings. 

General Misconduct


As stated above, police officers are human and can make mistakes. If an officer engages in some type of misconduct, like using too much force for the situation, this can affect the subsequent trial and conviction of a DWI defendant.


The criminal law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you with a DWI charge. Every person is entitled to a fair trial and to be afforded all of his or her rights. As such, we use every defense possible, like mistakes made at the original arrest. We work diligently to get the best outcome possible under the circumstances. Contact us today. If you find yourself facing criminal charges and need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.








The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.





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