Getting charged with DWI, driving while impaired, can be a daunting experience. You were likely driving along when you were stopped by the police. Suddenly, you find yourself at the side of the road, answering questions and performing some field sobriety tests. The next thing you know, you are in handcuffs, headed to the police station. DWI charges are serious, and if you are found guilty, you could face a number of severe penalties. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, there may be options for successfully defending DWI charges.
Was the Traffic Stop Legal?
Police officers must have a valid reason to pull you over. The first question your attorney will review is whether the stop was performed in an appropriate manner. Law enforcement must have reason to believe that you broke a law in order to stop your vehicle. This is called “reasonable suspicion.” Generally, this means that the officer saw you do something wrong or they witnessed your vehicle with a problem, such as a broken light or an expired tag. The police may also pull you over for driving erratically or failure to maintain your lane.
Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) are designed to provide law enforcement with a way to observe and evaluate a driver for potential impairment. There are three most common tests, including the walk and turn test, the stand on one leg test, and the eye gaze test. The officer should be properly trained on how to administer the tests as well as how to evaluate the results. The performance on SFSTs is somewhat subjective, and the officer may also have utilized non-standard tests.
Portable Breath Tests
Portable breath tests (PBTs) are the small breathalyzer tests that police officers carry with them on traffic stops. The PBT is a small, handheld device that measures the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) using the breath. If you blow a BAC over 0.08%, you will be arrested for DWI. It is important to note that PBTs are not always accurate. If they are off by just a bit, you could be wrongly taken to jail. A PBT is not the same as a breathalyzer test performed at the police station. You do not have to submit to a PBT.
Breath, Blood, or Urine Tests
Once you get to the police station, they will perform a breath, blood, or urine test. If you do not submit to this test, you could have your license suspended. Breathalyzer machines are the most common type of DWI testing done. However, the machine has to be working properly and must be accurately calibrated. The test must be taken during the appropriate time frame. You have the right to have your attorney or another witness present during the test. You can also have your own test completed and analyzed on your own.
Defending DWI Charges
Defending DWI charges can be complex, and it is usually best to seek legal guidance throughout the process. An experienced DWI attorney will immediately evaluate the entire situation to determine areas of concern. If the traffic stop was done illegally or if the evidence against you was gathered improperly, your attorney will make a motion to suppress. In other cases, it may be possible to prove that the tests were not accurate. Sometimes there are witnesses that can support your defense. Every case is different and has a unique set of facts. Your lawyer will do everything possible to get the charges dropped or reduced.
It is important to vigorously defend DWI charges. If you are found guilty, the penalties could hurt you and your family for years. If you are charged with DWI, do not delay. Contact us at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for a free initial consultation.
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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