When a police officer arrests you for drunk driving, it is an intimidating and jarring experience.
If you receive a conviction for a first-offense DWI, these are the potential penalties:
- 180 days of jail time
- Driver license suspension for one year
- $2,000 fine
But even though you may feel like everything is against you, not all DWI cases end in convictions. It may be possible to challenge the charges you are facing. If successful, a defense strategy may result in a reduction of your charges or a complete dismissal.
Unlawful traffic stop
Did you know that traffic stops can be illegal? The police officer must have probable cause to pull you over. This means that the cop needs to have a reason to suspect you are guilty of a crime. Some reasons a police officer may establish probable cause suspicion include a broken taillight, speeding or erratic driving. But if no reasonable suspicion exists for the stop, any ensuing evidence is invalid.
The police officer may use a Breathalyzer device to determine your blood alcohol content. But these tools are not always accurate. A Breathalyzer must undergo proper maintenance and calibration to be reliable. The cop may also administer the test improperly, causing inaccurate results.
Field sobriety tests
You may need to partake in various field sobriety tests during a traffic stop. Common tests include the walk-and-turn, horizontal gaze nystagmus and one-leg stand. There are a number of reasons why these tests can be unreliable. The following factors may skew the results:
- Uneven pavement or poor lighting
- Improper shoes, such as sandals or high heels
- Physical or mental condition
- Confusing or inadequate instructions
It is clear that a vast number of factors can impact your eye movements, balance and coordination. Just because you fail a field sobriety test does not necessarily prove you are drunk.