A conviction of drunk driving (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) can devastate your life and the lives of other people as well. Depending on the severity of the case, you can lose your job, consequently derailing your career, as well as your freedom.
For instance, in the case of a certified professional like a doctor, a DUI/DWI charge may cost you your practicing license – not to mention time in jail.
In the state of Texas, the difference between a DUI and a DWI is the age of the driver charged. If a driver over the age of 21 is legally intoxicated (impaired by drugs or with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 blood or higher), they can be charged with a DWI. If the driver is under the legal drinking age of 21, they may be charged with a DUI.
DWI charges involving high blood alcohol content result in tougher penalties. Even when the facts of the case appear to be straightforward, there is always hope with the right defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney can take several approaches when looking for an acquittal in a DWI or DUI case:
Question the Legality a Traffic Checkpoint or Sobriety Test
Sometimes DWI officers don’t follow proper processes when stopping motorists for drunk driving checks. An officer cannot just assume a driver is drunk and stop them. Reasonable suspicion must be present, such as the motorist was speeding, ran a red light, was driving recklessly, or broke some other traffic rule. One way to get an acquittal in a drunk driving case is to question the legality of a traffic stop and the subsequent sobriety tests.
A police officer must clearly state the reason for a stop before proceeding with anything else. This reason will also appear on the incident report. If an officer lied about that, then the whole case will crumble.
Establishing roadblocks at DUI checkpoints should be after following precise protocols. For one, officers are required to conduct checks in a uniform manner. The privacy of the motorist should be respected throughout the checkpoint. The safety of drivers is another requirement that must be met. If a lawyer establishes an infringement on any of these regulations, then an attorney can question the legality of the checkpoint and the charge.
Chain of Evidence
In any official investigation, the chain of evidence matters a great deal. After a DWI officer has conducted breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, the results should follow a proper chain of custody if they are to be used as evidence in a trial.
In one instance, an officer collected a blood sample from the accused and then kept it in his car trunk for three days. This led to an acquittal of DWI charge with a .19 blood alcohol content due to failure to maintain an appropriate chain of evidence. A skilled attorney can investigate this stage and learn if there was any mishandling of the evidence.
Validity of a Field Sobriety Test
Another possible avenue to take when seeking acquittal in a DUI/DWI case to question the validity of the type of sobriety test conducted at the scene and how reliable it is. Police officers utilize different exams on motorists who are suspected of being intoxicated. They range from reciting the alphabet backward to standing on one leg to a breathalyzer.
An attorney can argue that some other unrelated factors may have skewed the indicators of intoxication. For example, an individual with poor coordination may have trouble standing on one leg, meaning their degree of intoxication has nothing to do with failing the test. Discrediting the results of a field sobriety tests takes away one of the key evidence pieces of the prosecution.
Question Blood Tests
Blood tests are considered the most effective method to measure the content of alcohol in a person accused of driving while intoxicated. Nonetheless, mistakes can occur during the administration of this test, and that would be cause for an acquittal. A lawyer can find out if there were errors in the handling of the test.
For instance, an unqualified technician may have been responsible for the blood testing procedures, and that can be used to question the credibility of the results. If a testing center used old and poor quality equipment for the examination, then that too can be brought to question. Poor tools and outdated techniques may have been the cause of a .19 reading. A DWI attorney can find different paths to take with this option.
An arrest after a failed field sobriety test should be by the book. If an officer did not read the Miranda Rights to an accused, then that is ground for dismissal. Any arrest where an officer fails to inform an individual of their rights invalidates the whole case.
Getting a lawyer immediately after a DWI arrest is highly advisable to take advantage of such scenarios.