One of the first questions clients often have for a DWI lawyer is, "How do I fight this?" There are several ways for a DWI attorney to approach a case, and it's normal to attempt several defenses at once, so look at three of the more commonly tried ones.
Question the Traffic Stop
In law, this argument is what is known as "fruit of a poison tree." The notion is that anything that follows from poor procedures used by the police can't be accepted by the court. It's far from an ironclad argument, but judges generally want to see the cops do their job the right way.
Suppose the police officer claimed that you were pulled over because you crossed the center line several times. A DWI lawyer might demand discovery of the cruiser's dashcam to see what the cop saw. If the video shows nothing that would normally trigger a traffic stop, this may be grounds for having the case dismissed.
Testing Methods and Equipment
Field sobriety tests involve several steps because the law doesn't allow the police to jump to conclusions. Instead, a police officer must start with reasonable suspicion and then establish greater concern before taking more drastic actions. This is why they usually ask the driver a few questions, have them get out of the vehicle and then perform several motor function tasks to show they might be intoxicated. Similarly, testing is oftentimes done with a breathalyzer to arrive at cause for an arrest.
As previously noted, your DWI attorney has the right to seek discovery of body- and dashcam videos to see what the field sobriety test looked like. They also can look at information about the maintenance and handling of equipment, any recalls on the system and even the way the officer had you blow into the breathalyzer.
Seeking a Reduced Sentence
There does come a point in certain cases where picking a legal fight is planning to get a tougher sentence. If a state has a diversion program for first-time offenders, a DWI attorney might try to plead the case down to a suspended sentence and a reckless driving charge. The client would then be expected to complete drug and alcohol counseling before the suspended reckless driving sentence was applied. If the driver failed to complete court-ordered counseling, then the full DWI conviction could be reinstated along with all the penalties, such as jail time, fines and suspension of driving privileges.
To learn more about your options, contact a DWI lawyer.