Getting arrested for a DWI raises many questions and elicits considerable worry, particularly with respect to the potentially steep criminal and administrative penalties that accompany such a conviction.
For those who wish to fight charges, here is a list of the most successful and common ways to challenge a DWI.
Challenge the Legality of the Stop
Police must have some type of reasonable suspicion to pull over a motorist. Most DWI stops are the result of infractions such as:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Following too closely
- Driving above or below the speed limit
- Driving on the shoulder
- Having a burned-out light or turn signal
- Traveling the wrong way on a one-way street
- Making a wrong turn
- Failing to observe a traffic light or stop sign
Whatever the reason, the police officer must state a clear and reasonable cause for the traffic stop in the first place, and this information should also be noted on the incident or arrest report. If the stop were illegal, then any evidence obtained during the subsequent investigation is inadmissible.
Challenge Breathalyzer Results
Having suspected drunk drivers blow into a breathalyzer is standard practice for identifying whether a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit; however, these tests oftentimes have flawed results. Among the most cited reasons for false breathalyzer results include:
- Equipment malfunction
- Poor or improper maintenance and calibration
- User error
- Driver’s health conditions
- Driver’s use of over-the-counter products such as mouthwash which may provide an erroneous high BAC reading
Challenge Blood/Urine Tests
Similar to challenging breathalyzer tests, a driver facing DWI charges can also question the result of other chemical tests. These tests can also yield incorrect results, particularly with an inexperienced or unqualified tester, if the equipment used is poorly maintained, or if there are chain-of-custody problems during the testing process.
Question the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Field Sobriety Tests
In addition to questioning the legitimacy of chemical BAC tests, many field sobriety tests that require the suspected driver perform certain fine motor skills assessments have also been proven rather unreliable because there are several factors which may lead to poor performance on said tests. Among these factors are weather, restrictive clothing, having a physical illness, weight, or naturally poor coordination.
Demonstrate the Illegality of a DWI Checkpoint Arrest
DWI checkpoints continue to raise controversy with respect to potential Fourth Amendment violations; however, law enforcement agencies continue to use them. The entire process must adhere to certain protocols such as a uniform selecting procedure, ensuring driver safety, and maintaining motorists’ constitutional rights. Any doubt surrounding these factors may result in case dismissal.
Assert a Police Officer’s Failure to Provide Implied Consent Warnings
In many states—including Minnesota—implied consent laws require motorists suspected of DWI submit to a chemical BAC test or risk suspension of their driver’s license and/or other penalties. Officers must request a suspected driver to submit to a test; they may not demand or use coercive or threatening behavior to obtain a sample. Inappropriate behavior by police oftentimes ensures that any test results are inadmissible.
Claim Police Officer Misconduct
A central tenet of contemporary law enforcement is informing a criminal suspect about his/her Miranda rights: the right not to make incriminating statements and to have access to an attorney. Police are legally bound to administer these warnings before questioning a suspect, and if an officer fails to Mirandize a suspect, then any evidence obtained from this improper questioning is inadmissible. Similarly, if an officer stops a motorist based on racial or ethnic profiling, any evidence obtained as a result is likely to be inadmissible.
Dispute Being Under the Influence in the First Place
In some cases, an individual may have a particular medical condition, suffer from legal medication side-effects, or have some other condition that may lead police to erroneously believe s/he was under the influence.
For more information, or if you or a loved one are facing DWI charges, please contact us.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.