How to Fight Your DWI at Trial in North Carolina
Challenging a Traffic Stop for DWI
There are three main stages at which we can challenge your DWI. The first stage is the stop. An officer cannot legally stop you if you aren’t breaking a law or driving erratically.
In many cases, there may be video evidence of your driving available, and we’ll seek it out to determine whether the officer’s allegations are consistent with the video. If a good DWI defense lawyer is successful convincing the judge that the officer had no legal reason to pull you over, the judge will dismiss your case.
Fighting a DWI Arrest in NC
The second stage is at the arrest. You may have heard that an officer must have probable cause that you’ve committed a crime to arrest you for that crime. Probable cause is determined by the culmination of everything up to the point of arrest, including your driving, the officer’s observations of you, and your performance on the Field Sobriety Tests.
If our DWI lawyers are able to show the judge that the evidence at this stage of the investigation did not add up to probable cause, the judge must dismiss your case.
Field Sobriety Tests
Here are some important points about Field Sobriety Tests. Law enforcement officers often offer suspects the opportunity “to prove their innocence” by performing Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s). However, the actual purpose of these tests is to gather evidence to use against you at trial.
There are two types of FST’s: Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are the Walk-and-Turn Test, the One-Leg-Stand Test, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. Non-Standardized Tests include the Finger Dexterity Test, the Alphabet Test, Counting Test, and the Romberg Balance Test.
Challenging a Field Sobriety Test for DWI
Studies have shown that the three Standardized FST’s are the most accurate tests, but must be administered correctly. In particular, officers must strictly comply with the required procedures when administering the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
At Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, we train our DWI attorneys how to administer these tests using the same manual and instruction that law enforcement officers receive. We know the proper instructions that law enforcement should give as well as the clues of impairment for which officers are looking. If we can show that the officer did not strictly comply, we may be able to cast doubt on that officer’s testimony, thus making it more difficult for the state to prove your guilt at trial.
Challenging the Level of Impairment for DWI
Lastly, the District Attorney must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest legal standard of proof. It is at this stage where the court would consider your breath alcohol concentration result if you submitted to a chemical analysis. Just because you blew over .08 doesn’t mean the judge will automatically find you guilty. He or she is required to consider all of the evidence.
As your attorney, we will likely counter your BAC (breath alcohol content) result with favorable evidence to raise reasonable doubt as to whether you were impaired. Further, the officer must take certain steps before administering the EC/IR-II test. If he fails to follow these steps, there are ways we can keep your BAC result out of evidence, which will make it much more difficult for the District Attorney to prove your guilt. If your attorney can convince the judge of any reasonable doubt as to your impairment, he will find you not guilty of DWI.
Contact Our DWI Trial Attorneys
Our Raleigh DWI lawyers help people throughout Wake County, North Carolina. We frequently handle DWI defenses arising out of the following cities: Rolesville, Apex, Knightdale, Holly Springs, Cary, Wake Forest, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Morrisville, Raleigh, Wendell, Zebulon and New Hope.