Common defenses for DWI charges

One major mistake people make when facing DWI charges in Texas is giving up too soon.

Although in some cases, taking a plea may indeed be the best option, in many others, defendants may have a much better chance than they think at successfully fighting their DWI case.

Breath test devices and their operators

People who fail a breath test often think there is no way to argue with the objective results of scientific testing. If the machine says their blood alcohol count exceeded the legal limit, it is the end of the story. However, there are numerous reasons why someone with a legally acceptable BAC may fail this test.

Some breath test models cannot distinguish between alcohol counts that stem from ingestion of intoxicants and other, chemically similar, substances. Someone in ketosis can fail this test, as can someone who has been working with acetone all day. In addition, retained mouth alcohol can throw off the count substantially.

Even the most accurate and up-to-date models only function well when their operators use them properly and take care to follow the manufacturer's instructions for regular calibration. Busy law enforcement officers may not have the time, or even the right training, to ensure accurate results. In recent years, several cases have arisen questioning the efficacy of particular breath test models. It has come out that faulty machines have, indeed, yielded inaccurate results.

The field sobriety test

In addition to chemical testing, the evidence may include the results of a field sobriety test. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test generally consists of checking horizontal gaze nystagmus, the ability to walk in a straight line and whether one can balance standing on one leg. Many types of medical conditions can lead to failing one or all of these tests, as can the effects of legally prescribed medication and even one's clothing and footwear. Test results also depend on the subjective perception of the officers administering it, which can be influenced by a variety of factors.

Lawfulness of the initial stop

Finally, if the stop itself was not proper, any evidence officers gather in the course of it is not admissible in court. Officers must have proper cause to believe the person they stop is committing a crime or a traffic violation, except when the stop occurs as part of a proper sobriety checkpoint.

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