DWI | Driving While Intoxicated
The legal consequences that accompany a DWI charge are serious, long-lasting and can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Understanding some basic facts about DWI charges can help people defend their rights.
The DWI process begins when a police officer stops a vehicle because they suspect the driver may be under the influence. The officer can then ask the driver to submit to several tests. The tests include:
- Field sobriety tests: These tests involve the officer directing the driver to perform certain actions, such as walking a straight line and balancing on one foot. If the person has trouble performing these actions, the officer may ask the driver to submit to further tests.
- Roadside breathalyzer tests: This test involves the officer asking the driver to blow into a handheld breath analysis machine. These handheld machines have been shown to be inaccurate and any evidence obtained from their use is inadmissible in court, but if they detect alcohol on a driver’s breath, the officer may arrest the driver.
- The final test is administered at the police station using a machine called the Intoxilyzer 5000: This machine is a more advanced version of the handheld breathalyzer. It is used to obtain a more accurate blood alcohol reading that is admissible as court evidence.
DWI Legal Defenses
There are a number of ways that a person can protect their rights when they have been charged with DWI. Some examples:
- Refusing sobriety tests. Although police officers may suggest otherwise, sobriety tests and breath tests are not mandatory. An arrested driver has the right to refuse to submit to these tests. However, if they do so, their license may be automatically suspended but the lack of evidence against them may benefit them later in court.
- Hiring a lawyer. A lawyer can do many things to help a person charged with DWI. They can schedule an ALR hearing to contest the suspension of a driver’s license. They can also look for inconsistencies in the prosecution’s evidence and for signs of officer misconduct that might result in dropped charges or a reduced sentence.