The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
How Do Brainerd Lawyers Fight DWI’s?
June 9, 2018
Drinking-and-driving infractions are quite common in semi-rural areas like Crow Wing County. In some jurisdictions, as many as half the probationers were convicted of DWI. Due to the high volume, many Brainerd Lawyers automatically try to arrange plea bargains in these cases. Especially if the defendant took a chemical test, which most do, these attorneys believe that the state’s evidence is just too overwhelming.
However, that’s not always the case. Even if the defendant provided a chemical sample, it’s possible to fight a DWI charge and win.
What is at Stake?
Even if you are convicted of a first-time DWI, you may some jail time. You will almost certainly serve a lengthy period of probation. But those are not the biggest consequences of a DWI.
One major effect is possible drivers’ license suspension. In a place like Brainerd that has very little public transportation, a drivers’ license is practically a necessity. There may be no other way to run necessary errands, get to and from work, and get the kids to and from school. A first DWI could mean up to a one-year suspension.
Higher insurance rates are the second major consequence. These costs are usually the biggest ones, by far, in a DWI. Many people may see their rates increase by as much as 90 percent. Their rates usually stay that high for at least three years.
Attacking the FSTs
The Field Sobriety Tests almost always provide probable cause for the arrest. Legally, if the officer did not have probable cause, the arrest is invalid and so is the prosecution. If the defendant did not provide a chemical sample, and about one in five do not, the FSTs also serve as evidence of intoxication at trial.
So, it’s important to undermine the FSTs to the greatest extent possible. At Carlson & Jones, our Brainerd lawyers use proven methods to do just that.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: In the HGN test, defendants must track moving objects with their eyes without moving their heads. If there are involuntary pupil movements at certain angles, the person probably has nystagmus. One problem with the HGN DWI test is that it often takes place at night while overhead squad car lights flash in the defendant’s face. Another problem is that alcohol is not the leading cause of nystagmus. In fact, it’s not even close to the leading cause of nystagmus.
Walk and Turn: For the heel-to-toe walk test, defendants must walk a straight line heel-to-toe then walk back the same way. Officers are supposed to give defendants the opportunity to remove high-heel shoes and account for various disabilities, but they don’t always do those things. Furthermore, it is almost impossible for anyone, drunk or sober, to walk an imaginary line in the dark heel-to-toe.
One Leg Stand: Much like the WAT, the OLS is a divided attention test that measures both physical and mental ability. Also like the WAT, officers often testify that the defendant “failed” the test based on a technicality like lifting the leg at a slightly-incorrect angle.
Some peace officers in Brainerd also use unapproved FSTs, like reciting the ABCs or the finger-to-nose test. But these tests are usually either inadmissible or only admissible for limited purposes.
How Brainerd DWI Lawyers Challenge Chemical Tests
If the defendant provides a chemical sample, it is nearly always a breath sample. Per a recent Supreme Court decision, officers must obtain search warrants to perform blood tests. Except in rare cases, they usually do not take that extra step.
Today’s Breathalyzer is a small device that looks very high-tech. But on the inside, it is basically the same gadget as the Drunk-O-Meter which appeared in the 1950s. So, the Breathalyzer suffers from some of the same flaws, including:
Acetone Levels: Diabetics, smokers, and many other individuals have high levels of these particles in their bodies. The Breathalyzer reads them as ethanol. So, the reading may be artificially high.
Mouth Alcohol: The law was once very strict about a fifteen-minute monitoring period. That’s no longer the case. Ironically, however, the change may benefit Brainerd DWI Lawyersand their clients. With no one to monitor the defendant, there may be no way to prove that the defendant did not burp or belch prior to the test. Such activity releases mouth alcohol which skews the results.
Unabsorbed Alcohol: If the defendant has been drinking in the past hour or so, the kidneys have not yet absorbed the alcohol into the bloodstream. Once again, the results may be artificially high.
These flaws are especially important in borderline BAC cases, such as a .08 or .09. Basically, the Breathalyzer measures breath alcohol and uses that value to estimate the person’s blood alcohol level. Many people do not understand that there is an extra step involved, so Brainerd lawyers must educate jurors without talking down to them.
Call Today To Speak With A Brainerd DWI Lawyer From Carlson & Jones
The anti-DUI fight is a winnable fight. For a free consultation with experienced Brainerd Lawyers, contact Carlson & Jones. We routinely handle cases in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.