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What are some possible defenses of my North Carolina DWI charge?

Being arrested on charges of driving while under the influence can be an extremely humbling experience. You may feel as though the best course of action available is to throw yourself at the mercy of the court and accept any consequences for your actions. However, it's important for you to know that DWI laws are equally harsh against defendants who actually realize the errors of their ways and plan to reform as they are for scofflaw defendants who have not yet learned their lesson and will continue to drive drunk.

That's why you need to know that there are several defenses against drunk driving charges that may be available to you based on certain circumstances. Perhaps the first thing you should know is that police are not allowed to initiate a traffic stop against you without first having a reasonable suspicion that you may have been impaired. Typically, this suspicion occurs either after a car accident or a traffic violation.

You also need to know that even in instances where police are allowed to set up random DWI checkpoints, they must still follow specific procedures. These procedures are the result of U.S. Supreme Court and lower court decisions attempting to balance your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and public safety.

Historically, courts have found that police cannot rely on the use of a "hunch" when determining which cars to inspect. A good example of this might be a car making a lawful U-turn before entering a DWI checkpoint. That act by itself does not give rise to a reasonable suspicion of impaired driving.

There are also challenges that a North Carolina DWI defense attorney can advance against police field sobriety testing. A good example of this is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus testing. This is basically the test where police ask a motorist to look at an object while they check for the jerking motion of the motorist's eyeballs. Alcohol is believed to increase the jerking motion of an individual's eyeball. An attorney can challenge this type of evidence quite easily if prosecutors fail to support HGN claims with the testimony of an expert.

These are just a few examples that demonstrate the potential benefits of retaining a criminal defense attorney to represent you in your DWI defense.

Source: North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, "Defense of DWI's," Linda S. Klein, accessed Aug. 12, 2015

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