What Are the Possible Defenses to a DWI Charge?
An arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated, DWI, can be devastating. It exposes the defendant to serious penalties and consequences. Along with the possibility of a term of incarceration, probation and hefty fines, you also face increased insurance rates, lost employment opportunities, and disciplinary action if you hold a professional license should you be convicted. Despite what the police officer and the prosecuting attorney likely led you to believe, an arrest for DWI does not always equate to a conviction for DWI. Although each DWI case involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, there are several possible defenses to a DWI charge that are commonly used to avoid a conviction for driving while intoxicated in New York or New Jersey.
- Challenging the initial stop. A law enforcement officer is required to have a valid, legal reason to stop a motorist for any reason. The officer is also required to have a valid, legal reason to keep a motorist stopped once the stop has been made. If no reason existed, the stop itself may be ruled an illegal stop. If that occurs, all evidence obtained as a result of the stop becomes inadmissible at trial, effectively leaving the prosecution with no evidence with which to proceed.
- Challenging the FSTs and other procedures. Once a stop has occurred, an officer must have a legal reason to retain the motorist and eventually arrest the motorist for DWI. Typically, an officer uses field sobriety tests, or FSTs, to find evidence of intoxication. All too often these tests are not properly administered and/or the results not properly interpreted. Officers also routinely fail to follow proper procedure when conducting a DWI stop and arrest. Sometimes, these errors can provide the basis for a defense to the DWI charges filed against the motorist.
- Challenging the chemical test. In both New York and New Jersey it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level of 0.08 percent or greater. A breath test is typically used to test a motorist's BAC level. Although the public has been led to believe the Breathalyzer machine is virtually infallible and extremely accurate, the reality is that the Breathalyzer machine does have a margin of error and be inaccurate even if the machine is properly calibrated and the test is administered correctly.
- Rising alcohol defense. If a motorist consumed even a small amount of alcohol just before getting behind the wheel, the results of a chemical breath test can be unreliable. Known as the "rising alcohol defense", the defense is based on the way alcohol is metabolized in the human body.
If you are facing DWI charges in New York or New Jersey it is important to remember that you have not yet been convicted. In fact, you may have a very good defense to the charges filed against you. The key to defending the charges against you is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Click here for a free case review.
You have rights and should use them. You are entitled to have an attorney present and represent you throughout the proceedings to even the playing field; however, you must exercise your right to counsel by telling the prosecutor or police officer that you do not want to answer any questions until you have an attorney with you. If you do not ask, they will not get one and they will keep questioning you until they get something.
Please check our representative case page and testimonials & referrals page to see specific information regarding past cases and what our clients and other attorneys have to say about our legal services. Please feel free to contact The Law Offices of Adam Thompson, P.C. for more information about our experience in any legal area anytime at (212)267-2424.
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