What are the three main components in a successful DWI Defense? The three issues that any North Carolina DWI Lawyer should be looking for are Reasonable Suspicion to pull over your car, probable cause to arrest you and whether or not the State of North Carolina can prove Beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense of driving while your license was revoked.
1. Reasonable Suspicion to Pull Over Your Car
Do the police have reasonable suspicion to pull over your vehicle? Reasonable suspicion is the necessary standard for police stops based on traffic violations. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed a crime or an infraction, the officer may stop the driver’s vehicle. The police have to have a valid reason to pull you over. If they do not have a reason supported by reasonable suspicion then your lawyer may be able to have your case dismissed. Driving substantially under the posted speed limit is not itself necessarily unlawful. In fact, it is sometimes required by G.S. 20-141(a), which states that “[n]o person shall drive a vehicle on a highway or in a public vehicular area at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.” Weaving within a single lane does not violate G.S. 20-146 and so is not itself a crime or an infraction. In some circumstances weaving within a single lane may provide, or contribute to, reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired or is driving carelessly in North Carolina.
2. Probable Cause to Arrest You
A police officer needs probable cause to arrest you. As an example, there may have been weaving outside the lane and slow driving (enough to stop), and there may have been the odor of alcohol about your person. If this is the only basis the officer gives for arrest (no sobriety tests), then that’s probably not enough probable cause for an arrest. This situation often occurs at DWI checkpoints stops or license checks. The officer will have observed very little driving and in the absence of sobriety tests there may be no probable cause to arrest.
3. Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that You Drove While Intoxicated.
Can the State of North Carolina prove each and every element of the crime of DWI beyond a reasonable doubt? In a DWI case, the State of North Carolina generally has to prove three (3) elements. Those elements are: (1) driving, (2) on a public road or highway in the county of jurisdiction, and (3) have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater and/or be “appreciably impaired.” As you might expect, the first two elements are usually established. In some situations, the driver may be found outside of the car (after an accident) or is not even present at the scene when the police arrive (driver leaves scene). Jurisdiction is also a given, but occasionally, an officer may stray outside of Wake County. Not surprisingly, it is the third element that is disputed. If there is a BAC reading from a breath testing “machine” (police prefer the term “instrument”), North Carolina DWI defense lawyers will argue the defects with breath testing technology. Blood cases are more difficult to contest unless proper procedures are not followed. Or, there may be a significant gap in time between traffic stop and blood draw. If the State of North Carolina can’t prove each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt then a judge must find that you are not guilty of DWI.