DWIs are a fact of life. There are so many life circumstances and bad decisions that can lead to someone driving while intoxicated that any one instance comes as no surprise. But when that one DWI arrest is you, it can seem monumentally unfair. You can’t help but think how there are thousands of people who drive home drunk or a little tipsy every day who don’t get caught. People who are driving more dangerously, people who might have killed someone. What you might not realize is that this pull-over and arrest might -really- not be fair. And there’s a chance that your DWI charge can be invalidated and thrown out of court, even if you tested positive for blood alcohol.
Today, we’re here to take a look at the kind of mistakes and unfair judgement the police can make that can result in the facts of your DWI being inadmissible in court. This is the best way to walk away from your current situation without a record, suspended license, or fines and jail time. If your situation fits within these circumstances, you can potentially escape the consequences of this one foolish mistake.
Stopping Your Car Without Reasonable Suspicion
Most people think that the police can pull over anyone at any time. This isn’t actually true. There are many reasons a police officer can pull you over. They can stop you if your tail light is out. If your license plate is too dirty to read. If you’re driving over the speed limit or the officer saw you talking on your phone behind the wheel. And, as is the case for many DWI stops, they can pull you over for driving irregularly.
Once you are stopped, the cop can then ask if you’ve been drinking and require a roadside test.
But they can’t stop you for no reason at all. Or for a reason that is provably false. This fact is important because police officers often haunt bars and party spots waiting for people to drive home, expecting them to be drunk. However, even if you are intoxicated, they are not allowed to pull you over without cause. And if your lawyer can prove they did so, then your case may be thrown out on the grounds.
Breaking the Rules of Checkpoint Stops
There are also situations where police set up a ‘sobriety checkpoint’ where they stop every car on the road and ask everyone to go through a breathalyzer or roadside sobriety test. However, there are very strict federal and state laws that limit when, where, and how police officers conduct checkpoints. They must announce their checkpoint beforehand, and every single driver must be stopped and checked. Surprise checkpoints, or selective alcohol testing, are both breaches of the standard checkpoint rules.
That said, any breach of protocol during a sobriety checkpoint stop can invalidate a DWI arrest. By not following the correct procedures, officers make it impossible to accept the circumstances of the arrest in court.
Misconduct or Improper Administration of Sobriety Tests
The next issue is officer misconduct during the stop itself. Even if an officer had a real reason to pull you over, they must also properly conduct the sobriety tests in order for them to be admissible as proof of intoxicated driving. If the officer did not comport themselves professionally or made mistakes during the sobriety test, the results can’t be considered valid.
If, for example, an officer harassed you during your sobriety test to cause you to fail, this can be evidence of misconduct. The police are allowed to talk to and distract you from focus tests, but they may not physically stop you or set up a test in such a way that could not be passed by a normal sober person.
The police officers may also make a mistake while conducting your roadside sobriety tests. They may mix up the instructions, then penalize you for being confused. Or mark your results incorrectly. There are strict protocols for how police are required to conduct these tests and if every rule is not followed, then the results may be thrown out. You may also be able to rely on the police dash cam for proof.
No Probable Cause for Arrest
Sometimes, police officers who are determined to make DWI arrest will actually charge someone who was not provably intoxicated at all. It’s possible for officers to arrest you if you pass your roadside sobriety test, or if you blow below the legal limit on the breathalyzer. They may even arrest someone without going through any sobriety testing at all with the premise that the -suspect- intoxicated driving.
The police are allowed to arrest you on suspicion. Just as they are allowed to pull you over for cause. But if there is no real probable cause for the arrest — even if there was probable cause for the stop — then your case is almost guaranteed to be thrown out. Particularly if you can somehow prove that you were not given a test or passed your tests with no reason to fear being arrested.
Improper Arrest Procedure
Finally, the last thing the police need to do correctly is the arrest itself. As you probably know from cop shows and crime movies, the police must read you your Miranda Rights at the beginning of the arrest process. This is to inform you that you don’t have to confess to them immediately, and that you have the right to call for a lawyer before saying anything that might be incriminating.
If an officer fails to read you your rights, they have made a critical mistake. But your case will only be thrown out on these grounds if they then -also- asked you incriminating questions like “How much did you drink before you got behind the wheel?” and you answer them after the arrest has begun and they have failed to Mirandize you.
Contact Attorney Kirk Anderson Today
If you have been charged with a DWI but the situation seemed off or unusually conducted, then there’s a chance your arresting officers made a critical mistake. Whether they pulled you over without cause, misconducted your sobriety tests, or solicited incriminating statements without reading your Miranda Rights, there’s a chance your case could be completely thrown out. With the help of an experienced DWI attorney, you can investigate the circumstances of your case and discover if your case is one of the few DWI arrests each year that can be completely overturned. For a consultation on your arrest procedure and DWI case, contact us today!
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.