North Carolina DWI Charge Dismissed on Constitutional Violation
Every American is entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution and the constitution of the state they are in. These protections are especially important to people who are suspected of a crime.
The violation of a criminal suspect’s constitutional rights can seriously impair the state’s ability convict the suspect of a crime. Recently, a North Carolina judge threw out a DWI charge because the suspect was not allowed to have a DWI defense lawyer present when he took his breath test.
The suspect in the case was a captain in the Thomasville Police Department. In early December, he was pulled over at a DWI checkpoint on the Interstate 95 Business Loop in High Point.
There, the High Point police requested that the man submit to a Breathalyzer sobriety test. He requested that his attorney be present for the test. He then called his lawyer, who indicated that he would be willing to travel to the DWI checkpoint to observe the Breathalyzer.
The High Point Police denied the man’s request and refused to wait for the attorney to arrive. The man then submitted to the Breathalyzer and blew a 0.08. Under North Carolina law, a person is considered to be legally intoxicated – and thus in violation of the state’s DWI law – if his or her blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher.
Although the Breathalyzer results showed that the man was probably guilty of driving while intoxicated, the test could not be used as evidence against him. According to the judge, the High Point Police violated the man’s constitutional rights when they refused to allow him to have his attorney present. Evidence collected using procedures that violate a criminal suspect’s constitutional rights is not admissible in court.
Since there was no other evidence that could convict the man, the judge had no choice but to dismiss his case.
Source: The Dispatch, “DWI Charge on TPC Captain Dismissed,” David Bodenheimer & Darrick Ignasiak, Jan. 27, 2012.