If you are facing driving while impaired (DWI) charges in North Carolina, there are several potential defenses that an attorney may be able to use in order to either (i) seek a reduced charge or sentence, or (ii) help you avoid a conviction entirely. We recently discussed three of these potential defenses on our blog:
- Challenging a faulty breathalyzer test
- Challenging a faulty field sobriety test
- Challenging an unlawful search or seizure
This article covers three more potential defense strategies for individuals charged with DWI:
- Seeking to suppress irrelevant or prejudicial evidence
- Questioning the arresting officer
- Researching and presenting exculpatory evidence
Three Possible Defense Strategies for Individuals Charged with DWI in North Carolina
1. Suppress Irrelevant or Prejudicial Evidence
As a general rule, prosecutors can only present “relevant” evidence when seeking to obtain a conviction at trial. While this may seem like a straightforward issue, it often isn’t, and in many cases there can be a serious question as to whether the State should or should not be able to use its evidence against you.
There is a similar issue regarding evidence that is considered unfairly “prejudicial.” In short, even relevant evidence can – and should – be suppressed if it unfairly suggests an improper basis for returning a guilty verdict. Depending on the circumstances involved in a particular case, examples of irrelevant or unfairly prejudicial evidence may include:
- Evidence of alcoholism
- Evidence of past DWI convictions
2. Question the Arresting Officer
As the defendant in a DWI case, you have the right to question the officer who arrested you, and there are a number of important reasons to do so. In a typical DWI case, the arresting officer is the State’s key witness, and challenging the officer’s credibility or poking holes in the officer’s police report can be crucial to mounting a successful defense.
For example, some of the issues your attorney can address when questioning the arresting officer include:
- What are the officer’s levels of training, education and experience?
- What were the facts and circumstances that led the officer to make an arrest?
- What is the basis for the officer’s opinion that you were legally intoxicated?
- Which field sobriety tests did the officer use and how did he or she assess your performance?
- How were your breath or blood test results validated?
3. Research and Present Exculpatory Evidence
Finally, in many cases, there will be evidence that DWI defendants can use in their favor. If there is evidence demonstrating that you should not be found guilty of DWI, your attorney may be able to use this “exculpatory evidence” to overcome any damaging evidence that the prosecutor presents in court.
Additionally, prosecutors owe a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence in their possession to the defendant. If the prosecutor in your case fails to disclose exculpatory evidence (commonly known as a “Brady violation”), this can be grounds to seek dismissal of your DWI.
Are You Facing DWI Charges in Raleigh? Schedule a Consultation Today
Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC’s defense lawyers provide experienced representation for individuals charged with DWI in the Raleigh area. For more information about the defenses you may have available, call a Raleigh DWI lawyer today at (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.