Suppression of evidence in DWI cases – You have been charged with DWI, what should you do next? Our first instinct is to tell you that you should hire a lawyer or at the very least, get a consultation from a DWI attorney. This is because DWI convictions have very serious consequences that can follow you for the rest of your life. Because of this, you should do your best to fight them.
How we defend DWIs is a topic that we have previously written about extensively, but there is one common thread. The suppression of evidence is probably going to be most important strategy in most cases. In this blog, we will talk about the suppression of evidence in DWI cases. Like all of our blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and not meant as a substitute of the advice and counsel of a DWI/DUI attorney.
What does suppression of evidence mean?
In order to be convicted of a crime, the government has to prove every element of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Absent a guilty plea, this is done through a trial setting, where evidence, through testimony and other means, is presented against the defendant. The government and the defense, however, are bound by the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.
It is by using these rules as well as constitutional principles, that your attorney can try to keep certain evidence against you from being considered by a judge or jury. An attorney can make certain motions to exclude certain evidence that would have otherwise been used against you. Without sufficient evidence against you, a guilty verdict is not legally permissible.
How most DWI arrests happen
Much of the evidence that is used in a DWI case is obtained well after the stop, and after the arrest for DWI. We will explain below.
Typical DWI scenario:
- 1. Someone is pulled over for some sort of traffic violation, 2. The officer speaks to the driver, and something is said during that conversation or the strong odor of alcohol prompts the officer to ask the driver to step out of the vehicle, 3. The officer asks the driver to perform some field sobriety tests 4. The driver fails some or all of those tests, 5. The driver is arrested for DWI, 6. The officer gets a warrant to perform a blood test or a breathalyzer at the police station, 6. That test result is used as evidence against the driver, for DWI.
Common methods used to suppress evidence in a DWI case
- Challenging reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop
- Successfully arguing that the stop was illegally prolonged
- Challenging probable cause for the DWI arrest
- Challenging the findings of the field sobriety tests
- Challenging the accuracy of the instrument used to administer the test
- Successfully arguing that you were prohibited from having a witness present at testing
- Challenging the qualifications of the person who used the instrument to administer the test
- Challenging the chain of custody of the blood sample obtained
Every one of the above-mentioned methods is a subject in and of itself, too expansive to cover in this blog, but they all have the same thing in common. They would all be used to argue the inadmissibility of evidence of your impairment.