How DWI Cases Get Dismissed
Finding yourself charged with a DWI in Louisiana leads to a stressful few months. Until your court date arrives, you won’t know what the outcome will be. Will you spend thousands of dollars in fines and fees if convicted? Will you serve jail time? Or will your case be dismissed? These are all legitimate questions that present themselves after a DWI charge.
Hopefully, the answer to your questions results in the DWI case being dismissed. This, of course, is the best-case scenario for you. Dismissals do occur, and several reasons cause this to happen. Let’s take a look at the different reasons for you to receive a dismissal of your DWI case. But please note that a case dismissal is very unlikely with out the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Difference Between a Dismissal and Acquittal
Before getting into what possibilities exist to help you gain a dismissal, we must first understand what it means to receive one. People often confuse a dismissal with an acquittal. An acquittal means you have been found not guilty after going to trial. On the other hand, a dismissal happens when the institution in charge of the prosecution, or a judge, dismisses the case.
How DWI Cases Get Dismissed
Let’s take a look below at some common reasons DWI cases get dismissed.
Faulty Sobriety Test
Probable cause must exist for anyone to be arrested for a crime. Part of obtaining probable cause in a DWI case is by performing a field sobriety test. The test includes standard physical and cognitive examinations conducted by the arresting officer. These exams were designed to find probable cause of impairment due to intoxication. What is the problem with these tests?
- Field sobriety tests lack accuracy from person to person. For example, a standard test is to stand on one leg and tilt your head back while the officer has you recite your ABCs. This test type may be accurate for a 22-year-old athlete, but a 68-year-old with a bad hip may not perform this test with accuracy, whether intoxicated or sober.
- Mental agility tests are another test to determine if intoxication has clouded the brain. They may consist of saying your ABC’s backward or completing a simple mathematical equation out loud. The issue we find, not everyone has the same mental capacity. What appears a simple task to the officer may very well be difficult for someone else.
These examples, along with others, are why arrests based solely on field sobriety tests become dismissals.
Poorly Maintained Intoxilyzer
One of the biggest tools a prosecutor uses for conviction of a DWI is the intoxilyzer that conducts a breath alcohol analysis. These machines have caused convictions for years now. They are built on science, so they are accurate, right? Well, not necessarily. A machine, calibrated and working within its designed tolerances, shows accuracy at reading alcohol levels.
The problem comes when the equipment is not maintained correctly. Evidence of calibrations must exist to prove the machine is working as it should. If these calibrations are in doubt in a courtroom, the results are usually dismissed, along with your case.
No Witness Testimony
Everyone has the right to face their accusers and hear witness testimony against them. The law enforcement officer who arrested you for the crime of driving while intoxicated is considered a witness to your case.
What happens when you appear in court to fight your case, and the officer doesn’t show up? You guessed it. Your case can be dismissed through your attorney’s motion to the judge.
Showing up to your court date is always important for this very reason. If the officer or any other witnesses do not show up, many judges will dismiss the case on the spot.
Outside of these main reasons for charge dismissals, procedural issues may lead to a case dismissal. This is in addition to hiring an excellent DWI lawyer.
- The evidence for the stop’s probable cause may not have been captured on video or considered substantial by the prosecutor.
- Paperwork that pertains to a trail of evidence may be missing.
- A mistake made in the report detailing the time and place, etc., is common in dismissals.
An Attorney’s Responsibility
A good attorney understands the importance of your case and what their responsibility is to you. A defense attorney is there to defend your case and give you the best chance on your charge. Before attempting to have you make a plea of guilty in an agreement, they will look at all of the scenarios listed above and more to determine if your case has a chance for dismissal.
Make sure when hiring an attorney, you discuss all of the options you have for a case dismissal. One study found that up to 8% of criminal cases in the U.S. are dismissed for one reason or another. Your lawyer will know when they see the evidence against you what your chances are for a dismissal.
We hope you learned how DWI cases get dismissed and wish you all the best.