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While all DWI charges are serious, the consequences can be harsh for repeat offenders. If an individual with two prior DWI convictions is arrested for a third, they could be facing felony charges punishable by jail time. For this reason, building a strong defense against third-offense DWI charges is critical for Amarillo defendants.
Challenging a Traffic Stop
Even for a DWI third, it is important to start building a defense from the very beginning of the case. A common starting point is often the traffic stop leading to the arrest. Attorneys want to know how law enforcement got involved because if the stop was illegal, any evidence gained after might be inadmissible. An invalid traffic stop could potentially lead to a judge throwing out the field sobriety tests, the breath or blood tests, and other evidence of intoxication.
Defense attorneys often seek out information about the arresting officer, and their record could be used to raise a defense. For example, there have been cases in which officers testified that they wanted to be on a DWI jury. They may have had a family member hurt by a drunk driver, so they want to take anyone who drinks and drives off the street. This can call into question the credibility and impartiality of the police officer who made the arrest.
Analyzing Police Video Footage
In many cases, a person can receive not only a police report but also video footage from the police car conducting the stop. In Amarillo, this is commonly known as MVR, or mobile video recorder. Most police cars in the area have not only a recording device but also a data dump to a hrd drive. In the past, the recorder used to come on once the officer turned on the lights. However, most agencies now also record 90 seconds or two minutes prior to turning on the lights.
When the camera is activated, the computer system goes back and takes the last 90 seconds or two minutes and saves it. This footage can be critical because it often shows the alleged traffic violation leading to the stop. For example, if an officer says the defendant was swerving, the video footage may show that this is untrue.
In addition to the video footage, attorneys want to hear the accompanying audio. For example, there have been cases in which the police officer calls the tow truck before making the determination to arrest the individual out loud. This leads to the idea that the officer did not have probable cause because they had already made up their mind.
Challenging Chemical Tests and Warrants
An important thing to when building a defense to DWI is the blood or breath test evidence. For this evidence to be valid, authorities must have followed proper procedure. For example, it may be possible to challenge the judge who signed the search warrant for the individual’s blood. It is possible the judge was not actually allowed to sign the warrant under the statute.
More importantly, attorneys could analyze the search warrant affidavit. What did the officer put in the affidavit, and is that in any way inconsistent with the police report or video evidence? A complete analysis of every factor and every piece of evidence could expose holes in the prosecution’s case.
Challenging Prior Convictions
For a third-offense DWI, it is important for attorneys to analyze all of the individual’s prior convictions. Defense lawyers want to make sure the prior judgments were valid, and there are a series of factors to consider. Did the individual have a lawyer? When did the previous DWIs take place? For example, if a person did probation for an offense dated before 1983, the prosecution may not be able to use the prior as an enhancement.
There have been multiple cases in which the state alleged prior DWI convictions but a lawyer was able to challenge these. Maybe the individual was arrested on a DWI, but they pled to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. That would not count as a prior DWI conviction, potentially lower a felony third-offense charge to a misdemeanor.
Let an Amarillo Attorney Help You Build a Strong Defense
The stakes are high when you are facing third-offense DWI charges. If convicted of a third-degree felony, you could face up to 10 years in prison along with thousands in fines. Fortunately, a dedicated Amarillo attorney may be able to raise strong defenses against your DWI third charges. To schedule a consultation, call today.