There is a common myth that your DWI arrest will be reduced to a lesser charge if you refuse to take the breath test or perform the field sobriety tests. This simply isn’t so. In many instances there is additional evidence that the police can rely upon to support a conviction even when you refuse these tests. For starters, the police will have the traffic infraction that they can rely upon for coming into contact with you. Here, they will argue that your manner of driving was so erratic that once could only conclude that you were impaired. Secondly it is very common for police officers to describe their interactions with you in a manner suggesting your impairment. For example, the police will claim they could smell the odor of alcohol on your breath; your eyes are red or glassy; and that your speech was slurred. These observations are independent upon whether or not you took any of the field sobriety tests or the breathalyzer test. Thirdly, should the police officer observe any open containers or drugs in your car that too will be documented and used as evidence to support a conviction even when you do not take any tests. Lastly, the typical DWI arrest require the police to engage the driver in their standardized questionnaire. Unfortunately, many individuals that have refused to take any of the DWI tests still answer these questions and, in doing so, admit drinking and specify the type and quantity of alcohol consumed. This is evidence that you are driving under the influence of alcohol.
It is important to keep in mind that the police are trained evidence collectors. As you can see, the police are building a drunk driving case against you the moment you were pulled over until the time you are booked into the jail. You may not have taken any tests but, unbeknownst to you, every action and question posed by the policeman is designed for you to incriminate yourself. The driver’s taking and failing the DWI tests is simply icing on the cake. So, is there any hope in beating a drunk driving arrest? Yes.
The best defense available is relying upon the police officer’s video of your arrest if it exists. This is the closest way of making the judge or jury eye witnesses to your case. Many police dash camera’s begin recording once the police car’s lights and sirens are activated and some programs track back a minute or so beforehand allowing the view to see what the officer saw when he decided to make the traffic stop. Amazingly, the erratic driving isn’t has bad a reported by the officer and, in some instances, do not show a traffic violation at all. If the traffic stop can be challenged, the entire case can be dismissed for a lack of evidence. Also, the video allows the court to observe your actions as you approached the police officer. Did you need your car for balance? Were you swaying? Was your speech slurred? Could you engage the officer in an articulate conversation? In other words, use the video to contradict the police officer’s conclusions that you actions were consistent with someone who was drunk. Show the court that your actions were normal. In essence, use the video to win the credibility war between your profession of innocence and the cop’s conclusion of your guilt.
If the video is helpful and you refused to take any of the DWI tests, you place yourself into the best position to obtain either a charge reduction or an acquittal of your DWI arrest.