An experienced Charlotte DWI attorney will ask you many questions to find out exactly what happened and build your defense.
Facing a charge of driving while impaired (DWI) in Mecklenburg County is a serious matter. The potential penalties are harsh and can include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even imprisonment. In addition, a DWI conviction can have long-term consequences, making it more difficult to obtain housing, an education, employment, and more.
To give yourself the best chance at a favorable outcome, it is crucial to hire an experienced Charlotte DWI lawyer. When you meet with your lawyer for the first appointment, it is important to come prepared to discuss the details of your case. Here are some questions you can expect them to ask you.
Questions to Expect From a DWI Attorney
At your first meeting with a skilled DWI lawyer, they will ask you many questions to get a complete picture of what happened when the police pulled you over and arrested you. It is crucial that you be completely honest when answering your attorney's questions. Your honesty will help avoid them being surprised by damaging information later in court. It will also help them determine your strongest defenses to fight the charges you face. Here are questions you should be prepared to answer.
What Were You Doing Before the Traffic Stop?
Your attorney will want to understand your activities leading up to the moment you were pulled over. This includes whether you were driving erratically, committing traffic violations, or engaging in suspicious behavior that may have caught the officer's attention.This information will help your lawyer decide whether the police had reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop. If they were not justified in stopping you, all the evidence they collected against you might be inadmissible in court.
Had You Been Drinking?
Your lawyer will inquire about whether you consumed any alcoholic beverages before driving. They will need to know the quantity, type, and timing of your drinks.
It is vital to be truthful about your alcohol consumption. Your attorney will use this information to assess how intoxicated you may have been and whether the field sobriety and blood alcohol content (BAC) test results can be challenged.
What Did the Police Officer Say to You When They Pulled You Over?
Be prepared to answer questions about what happened during the initial interaction between you and the police officer and what they said to you when they first stopped you. Did the officer state a reason for the traffic stop? Did they mention anything specific about their suspicions that you were impaired? Your lawyer will evaluate the officer's answers in determining whether they had reasonable suspicion to initiate the DWI investigation.
What Did You Say to the Officer?
Your attorney will want to know everything you said to the law enforcement officer. Did you admit to drinking? Did you answer any questions regarding your alcohol consumption or perform any tests requested by the officer? This information will help your attorney determine if you made any damaging admissions that the prosecutor can use against you and whether the police violated any of your rights during the investigation.
Were There Any Witnesses to Your Traffic Stop?
If other individuals were present during the traffic stop, such as passengers in your vehicle, motorists, or pedestrians, your attorney would want to know if they witnessed any relevant details. Their testimony may provide valuable insights into your driving behaviors right before the traffic stop, signs you were intoxicated, and what occurred during your interaction with the police. Witness statements can be compelling evidence your lawyer can use to prove your defenses.
Did You Exhibit Any Signs of Being Drunk?
Your lawyer will want to know if you exhibited any signs of intoxication when talking to the police. This can include the smell of alcohol on your breath, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes. Knowing this will help them decide if the officer was justified in asking you to take a field sobriety or a breathalyzer test before your arrest.
Were Any Field Sobriety Tests Administered?
The horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn, or one-leg stand are field sobriety tests commonly used by law enforcement to assess a driver's impairment level. The police often use the test results to establish probable cause in DWI cases.
Your attorney will inquire about whether these tests were performed, how they were administered, and how you performed them. Your answers will help them determine whether there are grounds to challenge the field sobriety test results.
There could be a number of reasons to argue that the field sobriety test results are inaccurate. If a challenge is successful, the judge could find that there was no probable cause to arrest you or to perform a breath or blood test. Below are some common reasons to challenge field sobriety tests.
Some studies have raised questions about the reliability of field sobriety tests based on the data. If your lawyer decides to use this as a challenge to your test results, they may need to hire an expert witness to testify.
Failure to Properly Administer the Test
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed specific guidelines for administering field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, law enforcement officials do not always follow the proper procedures when conducting these tests. If this was true when you were stopped, your lawyer may argue that the test results are inaccurate.
Lack of Experience Administering the Test
Another way your attorney might challenge your field sobriety test results is to show that the police officer's lack of experience and training caused them to administer the tests improperly.
Medical Conditions Interfered With Test Results
If you suffer from a medical condition that made it difficult for you to perform the field sobriety tests, your lawyer can use this information to challenge the accuracy of the test results.
Did the Police Wait 15 Minutes Before Administering a Breathalyzer Test?
In North Carolina, police officers are required to observe a suspect for 15 minutes before administering a breathalyzer test. Waiting to administer the test ensures that the person did not drink any liquids, regurgitate, vomit, eat, or smoke.
Your attorney will ask if this waiting period was observed. If the police did not comply with this requirement, which is common, it could have impacted the validity of the test results.
What Was the Result of Your BAC Test, and How Was It Administered?
If you underwent a breathalyzer or blood test to calculate your blood alcohol content (BAC), your attorney will need to know the result. They will also want you to explain precisely how the test was administered. This information is crucial in assessing whether there are grounds to challenge the breathalyzer or blood test results.
There are many defenses your attorney may use to challenge your BAC test result. A strong defense could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less severe offense through a plea bargain. For example, here are a few arguments your lawyer could raise to get your breathalyzer test results suppressed.
Failure to Notify You of Your Rights
Before administering a breathalyzer test, the police officer was required to advise you of your rights in writing and orally. This includes informing you that you gave implied consent to submit to a breathalyzer test after your DWI arrest and that you could be charged with a separate offense if you refuse to take the test.
Improper Administrator of the Test
Under North Carolina law, a licensed chemical analyst must administer the breathalyzer test for it to be admissible in court. If the individual who conducted your test did not have a valid permit, the prosecutor cannot use the test results to convict you.
Failure to Follow Proper Procedures
Law enforcement officials must follow specific operational procedures when administering your breathalyzer test. Common violations of these procedures include not waiting 15 minutes before performing the test and not taking two consecutive test samples.
Did the Police Inform You of Your Miranda Rights?
Miranda rights protect individuals from making self-incriminating statements during police interrogations. Your attorney will ask if the police informed you of your Miranda rights before questioning you. Failure to advise you of these constitutional rights when required may affect the admissibility of certain statements you made or other evidence in court.