Generally, when someone with a gun asks you to do something, you do it. So, roughly 80 percent of DWI suspects provide chemical samples. Minnesota, like most other states, has a per se DWI law. If the defendant’s BAC level was above the legal limit, the defendant is guilty as a matter of law.
Despite the tough law, chemical test cases are not impossible to defend. Some DWI defenses have nothing to do with intoxication. Additionally, these prosecutions are like all other criminal cases. Police officers must follow certain procedural requirements. Finally, a good St. Paul DWI defense attorney can undermine the validity of chemical test results.
Intoxication, or the lack thereof, is almost always the major issue in a DWI case. In fact, quite often, it is the only issue. However, prosecutors must also establish the “driving” element of a “driving while intoxicated” charge. Frequently, this point is easy to establish. Many times, the officer saw the defendant behind the wheel. In other cases, however, this element is more problematic:
In close proof cases, a tie always goes to a St. Paul DWI defense lawyer. The prosecutor must establish all facts beyond any reasonable doubt.
Under the law, officers must have probable cause before they ask the defendant to take a chemical test. This evidentiary standard is lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. So, poor performance on the field sobriety tests, like the walk and turn, normally is sufficient.
Frequently, however, this evidence is unavailable, or at least flimsy. Many defendants refuse to perform the field tests, or they perform one and refuse to do more. Alternatively, many officers skip this step altogether. Perhaps they have a good reason for doing so, and perhaps they do not. Either way, a St. Paul DWI defense attorney can challenge probable cause if the state only has evidence like bloodshot eyes or an odor of alcohol.
These physical symptoms might establish reasonable suspicion, which is a lower standard, but they arguably fall short of probable cause. For example, fatigue, smoking, and a number of other things might cause bloodshot eyes. And, an odor of alcohol only proves that the defendant had been near someone who was drinking.
On a related note, lack of a search warrant could be an issue as well. Officers do not need search warrants for breath tests. However, since blood draws are more invasive and the samples last forever, officers must have search warrants in these cases. Search warrant exceptions normally do not apply. Furthermore, the warrant must be supported by affidavit and probable cause.
Because of the search warrant requirement, almost all test cases involve Breathalyzers. At trial, prosecutors often call police Breathalyzer techs to the stand. These individuals try to dazzle jurors with tales of sophisticated fuel cell cores and electrochemical conversions. But like any other gadget, a Breathalyzer is not 100 percent accurate. Some flaws include:
To drive home these flaws with jurors, St. Paul DWI defense attorneys often partner with degreed chemists. These professionals carry much more weight with the jury than police technicians.
Regardless of the evidence the state has, all criminal cases have some possible defenses. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul DWI defense attorney, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.