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How to challenge a DWI charge

Seeing flashing red lights in your rearview mirror is a quick way to ruin your night. They also can have a devastating effect on your life if they result in a DWI charge.  The penalties for a first-time DWI conviction can mean a suspended license, and often include expensive fines and surcharges.

The arresting officer will appear in court to testify about your behavior. A failed sobriety test and/or Breathalyzer results may be part of the evidence entered against you. It is important to remember that you have no obligation to prove your innocence. You only have to introduce sufficient doubt about the case against you. Despite the long odds, you may be able to fight back and win your case.

Question the stop

A police officer cannot pull you over without a good reason, called “reasonable suspicion.” The bad news is that officers typically manage to find plenty of good reasons to pull vehicles over. They may claim a driver rolled through a stop sign, crossed the center line of the road, or failed to use a turn signal. They may say that a vehicle’s taillight is out, or even the bulb that illuminates the license plate.

If an officer does not have a good reason for pulling you over, however, he or she cannot use evidence which resulted from the stop.  This means that they may not present any personal observations, conversations with you, or test results in court. This may result in a prosecutor who has no case against you.

Question the tests

The results of field sobriety tests often lead to charges. Sometimes, though, police officers make mistakes. For example, they may administer a turn-and-walk test under poor lighting conditions or on uneven pavement. They may not ask if the driver has a medical condition that makes balance difficult, or whether someone takes medication that causes the same physical reactions as alcohol impairment on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  Furthermore, some medical conditions or legal substances can cause a false positive result for a breathalyzer test.

Even a failed blood alcohol test is not infallible. Some agencies are lax in maintaining or calibrating their breath testing devices. You can challenge whether the machine was in proper working condition. You also can question the training of the person who gave you the test, or the way that the lab techs handled your blood sample.

Cohn Lifland can help

Anyone charged with a DWI offense needs an experienced attorney on their team working to beat the charges.  If you are facing criminal charges, contact the criminal defense team at Cohn Lifland to explore your options.

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