What Defendants Need To Know In DWI Cases

A conviction for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can create a wide range of problems. From having a criminal conviction to potentially losing one's right to drive, there's a lot at stake when an accused person contacts a DWI defense attorney. Here's what you need to know as you move forward with the process of defending yourself.

DWI Is a Statutory Crime

Most offenses are defined by a person's desire to harm someone, take something, or attempt to do one of those two things. DWI is a radically different sort of crime. It is one a small set of crimes that are considered statutory.

That is to say that simply being drunk or stoned while driving is considered reason enough to be charged, and the law imposes specific limits on what counts as being intoxicated. You don't have to mean to hurt anyone or even cause any harm at all to be nailed for driving under the influence.

Common Defense Claims

One advantage of this for a DWI criminal defense attorney presenting a case is that allows arguments about how a matter came under the umbrella of the statutes in question. It's common for a DUI defense attorney to raise questions about the equipment that was used for testing intoxication.

There also can be questions about why a traffic stop occurred in the first place. Even how the police administered a field sobriety test can be questioned. For that matter, the issue of whether a driver was willfully intoxicated can be examined.

Unless a motorist caused actual harm while driving, meaning they hit something or someone, the police have an obligation to build a legal ladder that gets them to the point they can arrest you. This starts with establishing reasonable suspicion, usually based on how fast a driver was going and whether they were swerving.

From there, they have to establish probable cause, and that's what the interview questions and field sobriety test are all about. Only after they have probable cause can they administer a breathalyzer test or detain you for a blood test.

A misstep at any of these steps can lead to the invalidation of a DWI stop. For this reason, a DWI defense attorney will try to poke holes in why a stop occurred and how the police decided someone was intoxicated. In most cases, the goal is to demonstrate the cops slipped up.