Common Law Enforcement Misues During DWI Arrests

In a previous post, we discussed some of the common mistakes people make in a drunk driving case. In much the same way, police officers commit many mistakes in this area as well. These procedural errors give a Raleigh DWI lawyer additional leverage in the case. So, if you are facing DWI charged, there is no reason to lose hope.

When individuals make mistakes, they can usually correct them and move on. But when police officers make procedural errors, no one can go back in time and correct them. As a result, a Raleigh DWI lawyer could get the entire case thrown out of court, so the defendant never need face consequences like jail time, drivers’ license suspension, and high auto insurance rates.

In the rush to make as many DWI arrests as possible, North Carolina police officers often take shortcuts and cut corners. Here are a few examples:

  • Lack of Reasonable Suspicion and/or Probable Cause – To make traffic stops, officers must have reasonable suspicion to stop motorists. Generally, this reasonable suspicion is a traffic violation, like speeding or making an illegal turn. Officers are not allowed to perform random stops or pull someone over based on mere suspicion. Many Wake County judges throw DWI cases out of court if the arresting officer failed to establish a valid reason for the initial traffic stop, or there was no probable cause to make a DWI arrest after an investigation on the scene.
  • Field Sobriety Test (FST) Errors – Generally, FST failure establishes probable cause. But many times, officers get in a hurry and they fail to properly administer and assess field sobriety tests. Officers must follow the standardized instructions when performing the three-test battery, which includes the one-legged stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus. For example, they must account for health conditions, road conditions, and weather conditions when administering and evaluating these tests. In addition, they must describe the results in detail in their reports.
  • Improperly Performing the Breathalyzer Test – Only officers with the proper training and certification may administer preliminary breath tests. If a test isn’t conducted in accordance with any of the standard procedures, the results are legally invalid and inadmissible in court. Furthermore, if the testing device is not properly maintained and calibrated, any subsequent results are inaccurate as a matter of law.
  • Failure to Read Miranda Rights – Officers commonly forget to read a person’s Miranda rights, or they do not read these rights at the correct time. If officers place you into custody and ask questions without reading this warning, anything you say cannot be used against you in court.
  • Police Misconduct – Confrontations between defendants or onlookers and law enforcement officers often dominate the headlines. If a defendant resists arrest, officers may use force. However, they cannot be too physical if the individual is cooperating or at least not very threatening. In any case, officers can never result to verbal force, such as calling a suspect names or acting unprofessionally. Such evidence of misconduct can be very beneficial to a Raleigh DWI lawyer.

For more information about your rights, and police officer responsibilities, during DWI arrests in North Carolina, contact the Raleigh criminal defense attorneys at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, Attorneys at Law, today. To schedule a free consultation, fill out the form to the right or call (919) 887-8040.