Charged With DWI? You’ll Need Legal Help
The laws against driving while intoxicated (DWI) are strictly enforced in the State of Missouri. If you are charged with DWI, you will need the services and advice of a Jefferson County DWI lawyer who will defend you against the charge and work to help you avoid a DWI conviction.
Every driver in this state knows that driving while intoxicated is illegal, and most drivers in Missouri also know that a conviction for driving while intoxicated may entail serious and far-reaching consequences, even for a first-time offender.
Whether or not the charge is a first offense, if you are placed under arrest and charged with driving while intoxicated in or near the greater St. Louis area, promptly get the legal help you need and schedule a consultation at once with a Jefferson County DWI attorney.
How Will a DWI Attorney Help You?
In rare cases, an attorney may offer an “affirmative” defense to DWI. With an affirmative defense, you admit you drove while impaired, but you claim you had no other option because it was a medical emergency, a natural disaster, or someone was forcing or threatening you to drive.
Another defense that is rarely offered is the claim that you were not actually driving. When police officers respond to a crash and did not see anyone behind the wheel of a vehicle, it can be difficult – and sometimes impossible – for the police to prove who was actually driving.
But in most driving while intoxicated cases, a different defense will be more appropriate. To win a DWI conviction, a prosecutor must demonstrate that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, your DWI lawyer will be familiar with several ways to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case against you.
What Is Probable Cause?
For instance, if the police violated your legal and constitutional rights during a traffic stop, interrogation, search, or arrest, your defense lawyer may file a motion to have evidence suppressed or to have the driving while intoxicated charge completely dismissed.
When the police pull over a driver, they must have probable cause. Without it, no stop or arrest may be made. To establish probable cause, an officer must see an explicit violation of the law or must believe that a driver is impaired due to that driver’s overall driving pattern and behavior.
Can Breathalyzer Results Be Disputed? What About Blood Tests?
If your rights were not violated, your attorney may instead focus on the accuracy of your breathalyzer test, the device’s reliability, or the credentials of the officer who conducted the test. Breathalyzers used by police officers in Missouri may provide inaccurate results because:
Portable breathalyzer devices may identify as alcohol a variety of chemical compounds that are similar to alcohol and found in breath fresheners, colognes, mouthwash, toothpaste, foods, and several kinds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
Breathalyzer devices may also provide inaccurate test results for drivers who are dealing with conditions that include hypoglycemia, diabetes, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
RFI – radio frequency interference – may affect the accuracy of portable breathalyzers because RFI is a factor whenever and wherever police officers are talking on their walkie-talkies and radios.
A blood test is the most accurate DWI test, but if a blood sample is handled or preserved improperly, it may become contaminated, and the test results will be inaccurate. If a blood testing lab doesn’t adhere to standard protocols, your DWI lawyer may challenge any blood test results.
What Else Will a DWI Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
If you are taken into police custody and charged with DWI, your Jefferson County DWI lawyer will investigate and review the details of the charge, protect your rights, develop an aggressive defense strategy, and bring your DWI case to its best possible outcome.
Your attorney will prepare the defense strategy that will be most effective and appropriate in your own case. A DWI lawyer’s typical first step is asking the prosecutor to drop the charge. If that fails, your lawyer may file a motion with the court to have the case dismissed.
What is a Suspended Imposition of Sentence?
If your case can’t be dismissed, your attorney may negotiate a plea deal that would let you plead guilty to a reduced charge (such as careless and imprudent driving) and serve a lesser sentence. For a first DWI offense, your lawyer may seek a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS).
With a Suspended Imposition of Sentence, the court imposes a term of probation, but if you successfully complete the probation period, your record will not show a conviction. However, if you subsequently face a second DWI charge, the SIS will be considered a previous conviction.
What if You Are Innocent?
Especially if you are innocent, you should not accept a plea bargain. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, you will have the right to a trial by jury. If you are not guilty of DWI – and if the case cannot be dropped or dismissed – you should insist on that right.
A conviction for DWI gives you a record that can make finding employment – or even finding housing – difficult. In Missouri, the only DWI convictions that can be expunged are first offenses, and only after a period of ten years. If you can, you want to avoid a DWI conviction.
If you are innocent and your case goes to trial, your Jefferson County DWI attorney will prepare your defense, cast doubt on the state’s evidence, explain to a jury what actually happened and why you are innocent, and ask that jury to return a not guilty verdict.
Why Choose Grafe & Batchelor?
Don’t even think about going it alone and acting as your own lawyer in a driving while intoxicated case. The law and the science in DWI cases are exceedingly complicated, and any mistake or misunderstanding could land you behind bars.
With over thirty years of combined DWI defense experience, the lawyers at Grafe & Batchelor aggressively represent clients who have been charged with driving while intoxicated in Washington County, St. Francois County, Jefferson County, and across the state.
If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, contact Grafe & Batchelor without delay by calling 636-220-5934. Our legal team will provide a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your case, and if you choose Grafe & Batchelor, we will go to work for you immediately.