In North Carolina, charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) come with significant penalties.
Not only can you face jail time and lose driving privileges, the costs alone can be a significant blow. Thankfully there are a number of potential defenses that you may be able to use. With a skilled criminal attorney by your side, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped, depending on the details of your situation.
The burden of proof lies in two main areas. The prosecution must be able to prove that you were indeed the driver of the vehicle and that you were under the influence of a substance that negatively affected your ability to drive safely in order for a DWI charge to stick.
How do those things come into play where defense strategies are concerned?
Strategies to Raise Doubts about the Prosecution’s Case against You
You weren’t driving. If a police officer didn’t actually observe you driving the vehicle in question, the charges may be dropped. For example, the officer may have seen you sitting in an idle car, but not actually driving. Most DWI charges are made when drivers are pulled over for suspected drunk driving, though, so the specific details of your case matter quite a bit with this defense.
Improper procedure. If an officer did not follow procedure while making the arrest, the case may be deemed inadmissible by the judge. Even your breathalyzer results may be dropped if the police officer improperly administered the test.
At the time of your arrest, did the police officer read you your Miranda rights? Do you remember hearing phrases like “you have the right to remain silent” and “you have the right to an attorney?” If your rights were not read, or if they were read improperly, you may be eligible for a special defense.
If the police officer was unnecessarily intimidating or disrespectful, or displayed inappropriate conduct toward you during the arrest, you may be able to have the charges dropped, since police are required to follow standard procedures during arrests and field sobriety tests.
An experienced DUI lawyer can review the details of your case with you and help you understand if the police did not follow proper procedure.
Lack of reasonable suspicion. Sometimes an officer is not justified in pulling you over or making an arrest. An officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop, detain, or arrest you on charges of driving while intoxicated. If you were stopped because of your ethnic or racial background, without another reason described previously, the charges against you may be dropped.
Contrary evidence. The officer’s testimony holds a lot of weight against you. His or her observations produce evidence as to whether you were intoxicated. If you can somehow present evidence that disproves the officer’s observations, the prosecution may have to drop the case against you.
For example, you may be able to prove that your eyes were bloodshot due to allergies or you have slurred speech due to physical impairments.
If you can provide witnesses who saw you near the time of arrest, they may be able to testify that you weren’t driving under the influence. They may attest that you were sober before you began driving, or that your erratic driving was based on distractions instead of substance use.
Compromised BAC test (or samples). Finally, if your blood alcohol samples were compromised in some way, whether by the police or the lab technician, the evidence may be thrown out.
Only a Knowledgeable NC DWI Lawyer Can Tell You Which Strategy Is Most Likely to Work for You
A number of these defenses may work for you, but the specifics of your situation matter. The only way to really understand your options and which route is most likely to lead to the best outcome is to reach out to an experienced attorney.
We can help, but you have to get in touch with us first.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett?is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of?Schlosser & Pritchett?and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense.? He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.