Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DWI Defenses - What Should a Good Lawyer Challenge?

As a prosecutor, I was asked time and time again by individuals who had been charged with a DWI if they needed a lawyer - or not. To a person, my answer was always the same - "Yes!"

I believed it then - and I continue to subscribe to it now --- every individual charged with a DWI should (at the very least) speak with an experienced Minnesota Drunk Driving Attorney about their case.

Often their follow-up was - "Why? I'm guilty ... I was drinking and then I drove. The officer then stopped me, tested me and determined that I was over the legal limit. What defense do I have - what could an attorney possibly do for me?"

Well, a common misperception is that speaking to (and/or hiring) an experienced Minnesota DWI Lawyer demonstrates to the government that you are somehow trying to avoid taking responsibility for what occurred. Believe it or not, decent prosecutors don't look at it that way.  They understand that the Constitution guarantees every individual charged with a crime the right to an attorney and that what you're doing isn't trying to "get away" with something, but rather that you're holding them accountable - ensuring that your rights are protected.

If you're arrested for DWI - an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney should know to address these issues.

#1 - Did the Cops Have a Valid Reason to Pull You Over?

The police can’t stop a vehicle on a mere hunch; the Courts have said that they must have a “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over. Generally, these stops occur as a result of the observations that an officer makes about how you're driving.

In my opinion, this is the best place to defend a DWI case - because if the "stop" of your vehicle was unconstitutional - the government's whole case goes away.  In my experience, judges dislike technical arguments (such as the breathalyzer doesn't work properly - type) because it might tend to show that they're soft of Drunk Drivers. However, they are sticklers for the rules - and ensuring that a defendants rights are protected. A good Minnesota DWI Attorney should be able to demonstrate that just because an officer says something is so - doesn't always make it true. Especially, when it comes to opinions about driving conduct.

#2 - The Field Sobriety Tests Were Not Reliable.

Plain and simple, the roadside gymnastic-like exercises that the police have drivers go through on the side of the road are just not good evidence tending to prove that a person is drunk. Seriously, one's inability to "properly perform" these tests can be attributed to other factors than drinking - including:  pre-exsisting injuries, medical conditions, your weight, your age, the place where the test was to be performed, the weather and the officer him or herself.

By knowing the rules for the administration of these tests, an experienced Twin Cities DWI Lawyer should be able to demonstrate to a judge and/or a jury that these tests are biased.

#3 - Challenge the Breath Test

As the recent news has shown, testing someone's breath to measure the amount of alcohol in that person's system is susceptible to error. Experts have acknowledged that just one breath test alone might be unreliable and that if the test isn't administered properly it might not be valid also. In addition, serious questions have been raised about what effects the outcome of these tests, including: the temperature of your breath, how fast your bodily eliminates alcohol, and whether items in your mouth - such as dentures, blood and or other chemical compounds - have some impact?

If the test is not done properly - if the above-listed concerns are not addressed - then serious questions could arise as to the accurately of the measurement of the alcohol in your system.  A skilled, Twin Cities Drunk Driving Lawyer may be able to persuade a judge to throw out the results.


There are almost limitless ways to defend against a Minnesota DWI arrest. Granted, there are no guarantees that these defenses will work - everytime. However, if you don’t challenge the government - or assert your DWI defenses - then you shouldn't expect any leniency or that the charges will be dismissed.

Remember, the government has the burden of showing that you're guilty; you don't have to prove anything. Holding them to that duty is your right - and should NEVER be used against you. 

If you have been cited for DWI, as I have told many, many others - "Talk to a Lawyer!" Just because you've been arrested does not mean that you are guilty.  If you rights have been violated - you could see your case dismissed. You'd also be working to ensure that others won't be subject to the same criminal investigatory problems in the future.


  1. That dwi defense sounds good. Have you ever been arrested for a dwi?

  2. I have not, but I know many who have. As an attorney, I've been on both sides of these matters - too many times to count. Hopefully, if you find yourself facing such a situation - you'll have someone in your corner looking out for you.