A woman in New Hanover County, North Carolina says that she is facing charges for allegedly driving while impaired based solely upon an agility test that she was subjected to at the hospital after she was involved in a car accident. The woman does not remember what occurred in the wreck. The air bag on her car deployed and the woman suffered a concussion in the wreck.
The woman says that a North Carolina trooper gave her a breath test at the hospital, which she passed. But she says that the trooper did not like how she performed on a field sobriety test after she sustained the concussion. Apparently, the trooper claims that the woman did poorly in tracking his finger while she lay in a hospital bed. What is more, she says that her hospital records show that she did not have any alcohol or drugs in her system.
Law enforcement took a blood sample for purposes of a drunk driving investigation. Test results may not come back from that test for up to a year. Meanwhile, the woman is charged with DWI and she is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
Followers of this blog may recognize that car accident investigations lead from time to time to drunk driving charges. Law enforcement may subject an accident victim to field sobriety tests after a wreck a jump to the conclusion that a victim’s performance on one or more tests may not be up to the satisfaction of the officer. In the recent New Hanover County case, the woman reportedly says that she has tests to show that she was not under the influence when she was in a wreck.
Typically, news reports on an alleged drunk driving car accident are generated by government actors and carried in the press. Although there may be two sides to a story, a person suspected or accused of a crime has the right to remain silent. Most defendants do not speak to the press about an offense, as anything a person says may be used in court.
Our constitutional system acknowledges the freedom of the press, often as an important check on government power. But our constitutional system also guarantees numerous due process and other rights for people accused of a crime. Criminal defense lawyers argue in court to protect those rights, and the right to a criminal defense is important check on government power to maintain the integrity of our system.
Source: WECT, “Hospital tests negative, woman still charged with DWI,” Ashlea Kosikowski, updated April 6, 2013