he classic scenario for a DWI in Virginia involves an officer pulling over a suspect. The law limits the reasons an officer can stop a vehicle. The officer has to have reasonable suspicion to stop a driver. He or she has to be able to articulate to the judge that the stop was for a valid, legitimate reason. We take steps well before your court date to try to learn the reasons the officer initiated the stop. If there is cause to suspect the stop was for some invalid reason, we will investigate that defense and use it to improve the outcome of your case.
Poorly Administered Field Sobriety Tests or Successful Completion of Field Sobriety Tests
After police stop a driver whom they suspect may be under the influence of alcohol, they will ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are voluntary and are designed to be used against the driver at trial. They are also used to help the officer determine if there is a valid reason to make a DWI arrest. Tests typically administered by police include: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the one-legged stand, the walk and turn, the alphabet test, the number count, the finger-to-nose test, the finger count test and the preliminary breath test.
These tests have a very specific manner in which they are to be administered. The HGN, one-legged stand and the walk-and-turn test are also taught and described based upon standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The other tests have been developed based upon standards created by the police themselves. Improper administration may result in a case being dismissed
An Arrest That Violates Your Constitutional Rights
If an officer makes an arrest; he or she must follow a series of regulations dictating how it is supposed to be made. Beyond the reasonable suspicion and probable cause arguments, the officer must make sure the actual arrest is done in such a way that it assures the accuracy of any alcohol test that is later taken.
Improperly Administered Breath or Blood Test
After being arrested, a DWI suspect is usually taken for a chemical test to determine his or her blood alcohol content (BAC). In Fairfax, this testing usually takes place at the jail. It is a very difficult process to accurately measure the BAC. The breath test machine is a sophisticated piece of equipment. Special training is required to properly operate it. We always review the qualification of the operator to administer the breath test. We also look at the history of the machine to see if it has been properly maintained and if it was working properly at the time of the test. If there is some problem with the way the test was administered, we will use that to our advantage.
Blood tests present additional defenses. The nurse who took the blood and the toxicologist who analyzes it must be appropriately certified and comply with several requirements. Both individuals must also usually appear in court. These all make the case increasingly likely to be dismissed.
The Sheet Itself
In any DWI case where a blood or breath test is done, the sheet showing the test results is likely to be the most powerful piece of evidence. Any good DWI defense will need to explain why the sheet is inaccurate. Other defenses may be used to try to preventthe sheet from being used in the prosecutor's case.
Every time we handle a DWI case, the conversation begins with the breath sheet.Even during an initial consultation, we will review the sheet from the clerk's office. The initial review will give us a preliminary idea if there is a deficiency on the breath sheet that can be used to craft a successful DWI defense strategy.
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