When you are charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in North Carolina, you cannot afford not to take your charges seriously. If you are convicted, you could face a jail sentence and thousands of dollars in fines and costs. In addition, there are much more long-term consequences of your conviction, such as a permanent criminal record, increased insurance costs, and difficulties obtaining a job. You want to do everything you can to fight your DWI charges to get the charges dismissed or reduced to the least possible sentence.
What Are Common Defenses That You May Be Able to Raise in a DWI Case?
It is important to remember that you may have defenses to your DWI charge—even if you know that you are guilty of driving while intoxicated—that could result in the charges against you being dismissed. The actual defenses that you will be able to use will depend on your specific circumstances. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to identify the defenses that apply in your case and has the experience and skills to build a strong defense for you. Common defenses that may help you include:
- Improper stop. A police officer cannot stop you unless he has a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a criminal or traffic offense. If you were not weaving or speeding, were using your turn signals, and had a valid tag, the officer may not have had a reasonable suspicion to stop you, and the charges could be dismissed.
- Field sobriety test. If you agreed to take field sobriety tests, you may be able to challenge the results. The officer is required to follow detailed procedures in administering the tests which may not have been followed. In addition, a criminal defense attorney may be able to raise other defenses to your test results.
- Breathalyzer tests. If you were administered a portable breathalyzer test at the scene of your arrest or the police station, these test results may be challenged. For example, the machine may not have been maintained and calibrated properly or the officer may not have properly administered it. He also may not have been properly trained in its use. There are many defenses to breathalyzer tests that result in the dismissal of DWI charges.
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Your BAC test must be administered by a qualified professional soon after your arrest. If the person was not properly trained or administered the test improperly, the results may not be accurate. Also, if an unreasonable amount of time elapsed before you were given the test, this could cause the results to show your BAC at a higher percentage than when you were stopped. The reason for this is that recently consumed alcohol takes time to enter your blood stream. Finally, if your test results were not stored and handled properly by the police, this may give you another challenge to get the results thrown out so that they cannot be used against you.
- Medical condition. Certain medical conditions can make you appear to be drunk when you are not or affect the results of a breathalyzer test. In addition, a side effect of diabetes is ketosis, which can cause you to have an alcohol smell on your breath, or cause a false positive breathalyzer test result. Some medications may also affect your breathalyzer or BAC test. An experienced attorney will be able to spot these issues and raise them as a defense.
- Miranda warnings. Once you are being arrested, the police are required to give you your Miranda warnings about your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present. If they failed to give you these warnings or ignored your attempts to assert your rights, any statements you made may be inadmissible.
- Not driving. While this is a less common defense, in some cases, you may not have been driving when you were stopped. You may have switched drivers or could have pulled over to the side of the road. If you could prove this to be the case, the charged could be dismissed.
These are just some of the defenses that you may be able to utilize. There could be other grounds to suppress evidence being used against you or other violations of your important constitutional rights. If you are facing DWI charges, review our case results to see how we have helped other clients facing criminal charges and then call our office to schedule your free consultation.