How to Get Your DWI Dismissed?
Being arrested for a DWI, which is a charge of driving while intoxicated, is serious and can result in penalties ranging from fines to jail time. Penalties increase with each successive offense, so you want to minimize the number of DWI convictions you have and get any new DWI dismissed. The best way to do that is to not drink at all before driving. However, chances are that if you consume alcohol at all, you’ll likely find yourself in a situation at some point where you’re driving after having a drink, such as with dinner. If you’re smart, you’ll have waited after drinking so that your body has had enough time to process the alcohol. Unfortunately, even that can get you into trouble if your breath continues to smell like alcohol – or if you encounter a police officer who is determined to arrest someone for DWI.
To convince a judge to dismiss a DWI charge, you have to either prove that the charge is unfounded or that there was something wrong in the collection of data, a.k.a. a technicality. Because it’s possible for someone to be too intoxicated to drive even when their blood alcohol content is below the legal limit, proving the charge is unfounded really only works if you don’t drink alcohol at all (and even then it can be difficult). For most people, looking for a technicality could be the easier route.
Questionable Circumstances That Could Get the DWI Dismissed
One way to get the charge dismissed is to challenge the legality of the request that you take a breath or blood test. The officer needs probable cause to legally request that you take the test; in other words, if you were pulled over because your tail light was out, the officer can’t ask you to take a breath test just because you’re there. The officer has to have some reason to suspect that you’ve been drinking, such as drifting in and out of lanes. If it turns out the officer did not have probable cause, then the test would be illegal, and a judge would likely dismiss the DWI.
Another potential technicality is if the stop itself were improper. Police can’t randomly pull over drivers just to see if they’re doing something illegal. Yes, police do manage DWI checkpoints, but these are specific stops where everyone is questioned, and the stop is set up for the specific purpose of checking for intoxicated drivers. Outside of that, a police officer needs probable cause to stop you, meaning the officer needs an actual event or clue that something was wrong. These are generally limited to:
- Reckless or erratic driving
- The vehicle or driver fits the description of someone the police are looking for (e.g., involved in a crime; stolen car)
- Violation of traffic or car equipment laws (e.g., broken lights, running a red light)
- DWI checkpoints (as previously mentioned)
If you were stopped for no reason, or if you determine that you were stopped for an illegal reason (such as the officer claiming something was wrong with your car and you determine that your race was a factor in the stop), you could have a very good case for the DWI to be dismissed.
A third potential technicality involves challenging the results of the test. One classic challenge is the mouthwash excuse; some alcohol-containing mouthwashes have been known to set off breath-test equipment. If it’s been several hours since you used the mouthwash, that excuse might not fly. But if you had just used the mouthwash right before driving, you could have a good reason, and you need to discuss this with your attorney. But other issues can result in false positives, too. Improperly calibrated (or uncalibrated) equipment, for example, or a blood test that isn’t taken, stored, or tested according to proper protocols would also be grounds for dismissal. Certain conditions related to diabetes and other illnesses may also give a false positive.
What If You’re Pulled Over?
You need to start protecting yourself legally from the moment you’re pulled over. First, you should actually refuse to take that breath test. In Texas, there’s no criminal penalty for refusing the test; however, you can have your license suspended immediately, and you may be arrested. This obviously isn’t good, but if you take the breath test in the field, you could be giving the police proof of driving while intoxicated because the field tests have a number of issues, including poor calibration and, in the case of a test where you’re asked to stand on one foot or walk in a straight line, being easily influenced by you simply being nervous.
You should also not admit to drinking. Even if you think you’re safe because the drink you had was a couple of hours ago, the officer could claim you smelled of alcohol, or they could use that admission as probable cause to administer a breath or blood test.
You’ll also need to contact an attorney right away. Never, ever try to fight a DWI charge on your own. These are complicated laws, and you do not have the expertise to go up against a police officer and court who have seen it all with regards to DWI. If you want your DWI dismissed, you need an attorney who knows how the tests work and who knows how to prove to a court that your claims are valid.
It’s very easy to assume that all you have to say is that the stop was illegal because you were driving normally or that the test wasn’t administered correctly in order to get the court to believe you. It’s more complicated than that, and an attorney will know how to present the evidence that shows your DWI charge should be dismissed.
You’ll also need to challenge your license suspension if things went that far. If you’re able to get your license back, that could serve as additional evidence that you either shouldn’t be charged or that charges should be dismissed.
If your DWI is dismissed, that means the court didn’t think there was enough evidence to hold a trial. If the charges are dismissed due to a technicality, then the court has agreed that something in the process of determining that you were intoxicated was not valid, and thus there isn’t enough reliable evidence to go through with a court case. Once the case is dismissed, that means you won’t have a conviction, and you can go about your life. But to get to that point, you need to work with a DWI attorney who knows Texas DWI law inside and out and who has a successful track record of case dismissals. That’s Stephen Bowling DWI & Criminal Defense Attorneys. Call us if you’re facing DWI charges.
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