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In deciding which defenses could apply in your driving while intoxicated (DWI) case, our attorneys at the Law Offices of Tim Powers will look at all the evidence produced by the police and interview witnesses. We understand the different types of activity in which law enforcement look for to determine intoxication while driving. The prosecutor always relies (sometimes exclusively) on the arresting officer's testimony about how a DWI suspect was driving, including:
- Very slow speeds
- Uneven speeds (very fast, then very slow, for example)
- Weaving from one side of a lane to the other
- Crossing the center line of the highway
- Running a red light
- Hesitation in going through a green light
There may be many different explanations for these driving behaviors that don't have anything to do with being alcohol-impaired. Aside from the visual aspects while driving, there are other factors that law enforcement consider when making an arrest, such as driver appearance. An officer may also testify as to a DWI suspect's appearance and behavior when questioned, including:
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Inappropriate joking or incoherent speech
- Stumbling or not being able to walk very far
- Pupil enlargement
While these can be often considered signs of intoxication, the case isn't always the same. There are many defenses to prove that you were not even drinking prior to being stopped by law enforcement. Fatigue, medical conditions, and other situations can be the cause for a driver to show signs that could be associated with drinking, despite not having a sip of alcohol.
Contact our firm today to begin building your defense.
Field Sobriety Test Defenses
When an officer suspects you may be too intoxicated to drive, he or she will likely ask you to perform what are called field sobriety tests. These tests are designed to assess your physical and mental alertness, and can include:
- Walking a straight line
- Walking backwards
- Reciting the alphabet, frontwards or backwards
- Standing on one leg
Officers also sometimes rely on what's called a "nystagmus" test, in which the suspect is asked to shift eye gaze from one side to the other while the officer shines a light in his or her eyes. The theory is that the gaze of someone who is impaired by alcohol or drugs will be jerky rather than smooth.
The defenses to field sobriety tests are often the same as with officer observations. Medications and lack of sleep can make it considerably more difficult to perform these tests. Many people also have physical impairments caused by injuries – or simply aging – that make it impossible to perform these tasks under ideal conditions.
We have the opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officer in detail as to whether he or she asked you if you had physical impairments or there were particular circumstances that would make it difficult to perform the tests. Your lawyer may also point out to the jury that many members may have similar difficulties performing the tests, such as by asking the jury if they could recite the alphabet backwards under the best of circumstances.
Defense Against Breath Tests
When you consume alcoholic drinks, the alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream. The level of alcohol in your blood, called the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) can be measured by different tests. In all states, you're presumed to be drunk and unable to safely operate a vehicle if your BAC is .08% or greater. This measurement means that your blood contains eight/ one-hundredths percent of alcohol.
Your BAC can be determined from a blood draw, which is often automatically taken if you are involved in an accident and there is a suspicion that you may have been drinking. Your blood will also be drawn if you are taken to the hospital because law enforcement officers are concerned that you may have had so much to drink that you are in danger of alcohol poisoning and should be hospitalized for observation and / or treatment.
Most DWI suspects have their blood tested by blowing into a breath testing device. These devices can be faulty and not well-maintained or properly calibrated. They can register false results based on your consumption of food and other non-harmful substances other than alcohol or drugs. If this is the case for your Denton County DWI charge, we will likely subpoena arrest records on how the breath testing machine operates and was maintained and calibrated. We can also search for evidence of any defects in the machine, challenging its validity and having it removed from the case.
Curiously, another defense to breath testing machines arises when the physical breath tests aren't preserved as evidence, allowing for independent testing later. There's no way to know if the machine that was used was accurate, if your breath samples can't be independently tested.
Call on Our Firm to Help Your DWI Case
Many of the defenses against DWI charges require a lawyer's experience. That's why your defense is best left to the experience and proven success of the Law Offices of Tim Powers. If you've been arrested for a DWI in Denton County, it's important to contact us right away. We can discuss your situation during a free case review and help you understand your options.