Seeing the flashing red lights of a police car in your rearview mirror is rarely a pleasant sight. Typically, the officer is not stopping you to wish you a happy birthday. Rather, the officer has likely observed some questionable behavior in your driving. If you’ve had even a little bit to drink before getting into your vehicle, the experience can be even more nerve wracking.
If an officer suspects that you’ve had too much to drink, he/she will likely be closely observing your behavior. The officer may try to engage you in conversation, simultaneously looking for evidence to confirm that you’ve been drinking.
Hopefully, this hasn’t happened to you or your family. A DWI/DUI conviction is a serious offense that often leads to a loss of driving privileges, penalty fines and, in some cases, jail time.
If you believe that the charges are bogus and should be challenged, you should consider hiring a DWI lawyer. These attorneys are knowledgeable about DWI/DUI laws and understand the best possible defenses for your specific situation.
What Must Be Proven to Get a DWI Conviction?
State laws differ, however, in general, a prosecuting attorney must prove that the defendant:
- drove a vehicle; and
- was “intoxicated” or “under the influence” – meaning that the defendant’s ability to drive was impaired or that the defendant had an illegal level or amount of drugs or alcohol in his/her body.
Here are a few of the common defenses to DWI/DUI charges:
Not Driving. If a person is intoxicated but sleeping, and the vehicle is parked when the police arrive, prosecutors might not be able to prove that the person was “driving.”
Probable Cause. In some states, police must have “probable cause” to pull a vehicle over. If the driver was not exhibiting any unsafe driving behavior, the stop can be challenged.
Illegal Search. Police often need a warrant to search a vehicle. Without a warrant, they must be given permission by the driver. If permission wasn’t granted, the evidence can be thrown out.
Unreliable sobriety tests. Some officers don’t follow proper procedures in administering these tests. Moreover, a driver’s health issues or nervousness in taking these tests can skew the results.
Location. The prosecution must show that the officer who made the stop was in a jurisdiction that he/she represented. If not, the charges could be dropped.
Contradictory Testimony. Sometimes witnesses testify that police made mistakes or wrongly judged the defendant.