Many people in Statesville, North Carolina, might have the impression that if they are stopped on the suspicion of being a drunk driver, and then get taken to a police station for a breath test, the result listed on that machine is the final word on the matter.
Particularly if it is their first offense, a North Carolina resident may be very tempted to plead guilty without even talking to an attorney if they blow over a .08.
However, it is important for people to remember that they probably should not do anything important in a criminal case, including a DWI case, without speaking to an attorney with knowledge of criminal law. Perhaps more importantly, there are defenses to drunk driving charges available, even in the face of certified breath test that shows a person was over the legal limit.
For instance, a person faced with a DWI based on a breath test result can contest the fact that the officer legally stopped him or her in the first place. Before administering a breath test, a police officer has to have enough information to reasonably believe a person was driving drunk. Even before he or she stops a vehicle, the officer must have some legal grounds for doing so in the vast majority of cases.
Moreover, even if the officer’s actions were legal, it may be that the officer did not administer the breath test correctly or did not have the proper training to do so. The equipment itself also has to be current and in good working order. Finally, an officer might overlook something important which can affect the test, like whether a person has diabetes or recently ate or vomited.
Finally, in some cases, such as where the breath test shows a result right at .08, a person may be able to claim that while they were legally drunk at the time of the test, they were below the limit when they were actually driving.