Your legal problem started by being pulled over and charged by a police officer with a traffic and criminal violation. And not just any criminal violation, you were charged with a DWI – driving while intoxicated – which is a criminal offense unto its self.
Many DWIs are charged after an initial traffic violation has occurred – such as running a red light, speeding, having an expired tag/registration, etc. From this small traffic infraction, which usually results in nothing more than a monetary fine, mushrooms life-changing criminal charges with a societal stigma attached.
I once heard an older, sage attorney say that a DWI conviction is akin to an old girlfriend that stalks you for the rest of your life. In this modern world, with criminal background checks as routine as filling out a job, rental, or credit card application, that statement is even more true.
A DWI conviction can ruin a person’s chance to obtain employment, a CDL, rent an apartment or obtain credit to purchase a car or house. Due to the severity and the stigma attached to a DWI conviction, it is imperative to hire an attorney that will give your case due attention even if it means obtaining multiple continuances, waiting for the blood test to come back from the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) lab, interviewing the police officer, subpoenaing the roadblock, and/or a delay of more than a year.
For example, I obtained a DWI case in March of 2012 resulting from a roadblock in Cleveland County, North Carolina. After reviewing the limited information the client could give me, I had a conversation with the police officer and reviewed her affidavit of the stop of my client’s vehicle. From there, with the consent of the Assistant District Attorney, I subpoenaed the roadblock plan to ensure my client’s rights were not violated.
As an aside, a police officer must adhere to strict requirements when setting up a roadblock – whether it be for license check or DWI check. If the police officer does not adhere to these strict requirements, all evidence flowing from the stop can be suppressed and therefore not admissible as evidence against my client.
That said, I subpoenaed the roadblock plan in May 2012, July 2012 and again in May 2013. During the interim, I and my client worked as a team to obtain evidence in her favor – such as testimony from passengers in the vehicle, and I researched and drafted a motion to quash the vehicle stop, filed the motion with the court, and began negotiations with the ADA.
In July 2013, I still had no response from my subpoena requesting a copy of the filed roadblock plan and geared up for a trial on this issue. As another aside, having an attorney that is prepared to go to trial (instead of requesting a continuance to prepare for trial) greatly improves your chances of winning a case. This work done on the front-end can control the direction of your case. Remember, an Assistant District Attorney has hundreds of cases in any given day whereas your attorney can give his or her full attention to your one case. When push comes to shove, if the attorney has the reputation of trying cases, some Assistant District Attorneys will reduce a charge or outright dismiss it.
In this case, with no roadblock plan proffered and with the filed motion to quash, the ADA dismissed the DWI charge. From start to finish, my client lived through and worried about this DWI charge for over 18 months. This may seem excessively long, however, sometimes the more time that passes the better your case becomes. In this case, the fact that the roadblock plan was not openly shared casts doubt on ALL evidence and charges that resulted from that one night in March 2012. The fact that I, as my client’s attorney, jumped through ALL the State of North Carolina’s hoops also bolstered the claim that my client’s vehicle should NEVER have been stopped in the first place.