If you are facing criminal charges related to drunk driving in North Carolina, you may feel overwhelmed by the potential penalties you could face. Charges of driving while intoxicated can lead to consequences that may include time behind bars, expensive fines and loss of driving privileges. You understand the importance of acting quickly to protect your interests.
One of the most important aspects of any defense plan is to carefully evaluate the initial suspected DWI traffic stop. Law enforcement must follow certain protocols when stopping a driver, and it is possible you experienced a violation of your personal rights. If this happened, you can fight back by challenging the very foundation of the case against you – evidence from the traffic stop.
What do you need to know about DWI traffic stops?
It is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle while under the influence of certain drugs or with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher. Police officers receive training to recognize signs of potential intoxicated driving. Without reasonable suspicion and probable cause, a traffic stop and subsequent arrest may not be legal, and evidence from this interaction may not be valid.
Appropriate ways for law enforcement to determine that a traffic stop is appropriate and that an arrest may be necessary include the following:
- Observation of a driver acting erratically: This could include swerving, driving at erratic speeds, failure to yield, braking for no reason or almost hitting another vehicle.
- Results from field sobriety tests: Law enforcement use these tests to determine if a driver could be intoxicated. This could include walking in a straight line and balancing on one foot.
- Results from chemical tests performed: If a driver fails a field sobriety test, law enforcement will ask the driver to submit to a chemical test of the blood, breath or urine to determine BAC level.
If you believe you received unfair or illegal treatment during your traffic stop, or you suspect that you experienced a violation of your rights, you have options.
Protecting your personal rights
As part of your defense strategy, it is beneficial to carefully evaluate the events of the DWI traffic stop. You do not have to do this on your own, and you have the right to seek guidance as you determine if you should challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you. There is a lot on the line with a DWI, but a conviction or guilty plea are not your only options.