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Common Defenses In a DWI Litigation

Water Drop Forming A Car — Fayetteville, NC — Britt Carl L Jr

Being charged with driving while impaired (DWI) is a serious legal matter that can significantly affect your life. If you face a DWI charge, it’s essential to understand that you have legal rights and options available to you. One crucial aspect of mounting a strong defense in a DWI case is understanding the common defenses that can be used to challenge the charges against you. Here are the common defenses used in DWI litigation.

Vehicle Operation

The prosecution must present testimony from witnesses who saw the defendant operating the car while it was in motion to satisfy this condition. In such circumstances, the prosecution may fail to discharge its burden of proof if there do not exist witnesses who can testify that the accused was controlling the car.

However, the standard of proof for the prosecution is lower in some states, where it is sufficient to show merely that the defendant was in a position to set the automobile in motion. To satisfy this burden of proof, one only needs to be bale to insert the keys into the ignition and operate the vehicle.

However, it may be challenging for the prosecution to establish that the defendant was in a position to start the vehicle if the accused was asleep in the rear or did not possess the keys. 

Impairment and Intoxication

Impaired driving cases often rely on impairment testing evidence to prove that the driver was indeed impaired. Law enforcement officers use breathalyzer, blood, and field sobriety tests (FSTs) to determine impairment.

The defense may contest the reliability of blood, breath, or urine tests for drugs or alcohol due to flaws in the testing technique or inaccurate estimations of the amount of substances during driving.

An expert witness may be requested to testify as to the unreliability of the state’s testing procedures. The defense may need to present witnesses who saw something different from the officer and provide reasonable reasons for the driver’s appearance and conduct if they intend to dispute the officer’s views of impairment.

Sometimes, the mistake of fact or involuntary intoxication defenses apply. When a driver genuinely believes that they are not under the influence of alcohol, this is considered a mistake of fact. When a motorist consumes alcohol without knowledge, this is involuntary intoxication.

Legitimacy and Legality of the Stop

In a DWI case, the defendant has the right to challenge the constitutionality of the arrest. Proving that the police officer who made the arrest lacked probable cause is one technique to challenge the legality of the detention.

For police officers to possess probable cause to conduct an arrest, they need evidence that the suspect has broken the law. A judge may find that any evidence collected following a traffic stop is inadmissible if it turns out that the officer stopped the defendant for no good reason, like a traffic violation.

Furthermore, suppose the arresting officer fails to read the defendant their Miranda rights before interviewing the defendant while in police custody. In that case, their statements during questioning cannot be employed as evidence. Therefore, defendants might challenge the legality of their arrest by arguing that they were not given Miranda warnings.

Extenuating Circumstances

Extenuating circumstances establish an external factor influencing the defendant’s decision-making when driving while impaired.

The necessity defense narrows the scope of an accused’s responsibility and guilt. The defendant must show that they were in an emergency, that the situation was more significant than the likelihood of harm resulting from DWI, and that they had no alternative way of averting the problem, such as taking a cab.

For example, suppose the emergency is the serious illness of a blood relative and the defendant had to drive to bring them to the hospital. In that case, the defendant has a valid necessity defense.

The duress defense is another extenuating circumstance applicable in a DWI case. The defendant must prove they were forced to drive to avoid serious injury or death. For example, someone held them at gunpoint and forced them to drive.

Contact us at Carl L. Britt, Jr. if you need legal help with a DWI case in Cumberland County, NC.

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