After roughly a-year-and-a-half of legal wrangling, North Carolina drunk driving charges against a Pender County Commissioner have been dropped. The District Court Judge presiding over the case dismissed the driving while impaired charges last Friday. The case was continued several times during the course of the criminal proceedings, with delays in September, December, February and again last month.
But the case was not delayed without legal argument along the way. The defense argued that certain issues in the case violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. In February, a judge in Mecklenburg County agreed and granted a pre-trial defense motion to suppress Breathalyzer test results in the case.
The judge found constitutional violations in the police encounter, and based upon the violations of the defendant’s rights during the traffic stop and the subsequent DWI arrest, the judge has dismissed the DWI charges.
The case arose after citizens reported a stopped vehicle in the middle of the road in Matthews, North Carolina. Police reportedly responded to the area and observed a truck along the side of the road with its door open. Police claim the driver moved the truck to a nearby parking lot and parked.
The police officer stopped his cruiser behind the truck, blocking it in the parking space, and notified the driver that he was not free to leave. The officer admitted that he had not observed any violation of law, or any suspicious activity to justify the traffic stop and detention of the driver.
Generally, the Constitution provides more than mere technicalities. Pitt County DWI defense lawyers know that our country was founded on the concept that all individuals have the right to be free from unreasonable intrusions by government officials. Arguably, if law enforcement can effectively arrest drivers for parking in a public parking lot, our constitutional guarantees would have little meaning.
Star News Online, “Pender official’s drunken driving charge dismissed,” Brian Freskos, April 16, 2012
Star News Online, “Pender commissioner’s DWI case delayed,” March 26, 2012