Defending DWI Charges
What Is the Top Misconception About Being Arrested for DWI?
Often, people think just because they or someone they love has been accused of Driving While Impaired (DWI), especially when the accused did drink or take medication prior to driving, that there is nothing that can be done with their case. This is NOT true in many, many cases for the people I represent.
In a DWI case, just like any other criminal case, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each and every element of the charge of DWI. Here’s the run-down.
You can have a drink or two and operate your motor vehicle, as long as you are not appreciably impaired. As a matter of law, “appreciable impairment” is presumed if you blow 0.08 or above at “some time relevant to driving.”
However, before the State can get close to convicting you, the prosecutor must prove the officer had a “reasonable suspicion” in order to pull you over and that the officer developed “sufficient probable cause” in order to place you under arrest.
I constantly fight DWI cases on both of these issues. First, did the officer have a “reasonable suspicion” for pulling you over? Was it because you were speeding? Was it because you were weaving in your lane? Was there a good excuse for the stop? Or, did the officer pull you over for an illegal reason? I have won many cases where the officer could not properly articulate a reasonable or legal suspicion for pulling over my client.
Second, did the officer have sufficient probable cause for your arrest. Just because an officer pulls you over, smells alcohol on you, you have red glassy eyes or you may be unsteady on your feet, it does not, in and of itself, give sufficient probable cause for your arrest.
The officer must develop sufficient probable cause based upon the “totality of the circumstances.” What does this phrase mean? It means that the officer must look at the entire situation and determine if there is probable cause to believe you are impaired. I try cases and win them all the time where I make a motion before the court that there is not sufficient probable cause in a case.
When a judge affirms my motion to suppress the stop or the arrest, anything that happened afterward cannot be discussed. In other words, the DWI is effectively dismissed. My clients always greet such a ruling with ecstatic delight and yes, big hugs generally follow.