If you've submitted to and failed a breath test, the most common of the questions criminal defenses attorneys face - "Should I blow?" - is of no matter to you. You need answers about what to do because the State now has compelling evidence against you for its charge of driving while intoxicated. I'm a St. Charles DWI lawyer who knows that defendants in that situation need to contact an attorney and get some advice.
First, understand why it's important to not avoid the problem. St. Charles Prosecutors take DWI very seriously. And they have a lot of experience in prosecuting this particular charge. St. Charles is uniquely situated in Missouri regarding DWI. It's a suburban county with a big population - more than 300,000 residents. Its low-density built environment makes mass transit and effective cab service nearly a nil option. Real transportation choices are limited almost exclusively to one's own vehicle. Thus, a St. Charles DWI lawyer typically has a host of clients at any given time who are facing DWI charges.
Despite such compelling evidence of a failed breath test, it's not a guarantee of an administrative suspension or a criminal conviction. If you do submit to a breathalyzer test and fail, there's still legal recourse. Here, we'll just deal with the effect on your license and the state agency in charge of drivers' licenses rather than delving into the criminal/traffic matter.
It's actually a request for an administrative inquiry that culminates into a hearing or a trial of sorts. The administrative hearing occurs with the Department of Revenue. Attorneys investigate the maintenance records of the machines, the test-runs the officer conducted before the driver gave his or her sample, and the officers training.
As a preliminary matter, the administrative hearing will also deal with the officer's impressions of the driver before the driver ever arrived at the police station. That is, there are specific observations must find and tests officers must adhere to in order to find probable cause that the driver is drunk. Attorneys ensure the officer conducted his preliminary investigation properly. The horizontal nystagmus test and the heel-to-toe walk are the two most common. Of course, bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcoholic intoxicants, slurred speech and so on are part of the officer's metric. Specific administrative guidelines are outlined and officers must follow them before they can get DWI suspects in front of a breathalyzer.
Regarding the breathalyzer machines themselves - any St. Charles DWI lawyer can tell you - they are not perfect. These machines measure incredibly small parts of your breath. Those tiny particulates create a representation in the machine that determines the amount of alcohol that is actually in your blood. But it is not actually measuring your blood. So, if the test-runs fail, or the machine itself is improperly maintained, the possibility that the test itself is flawed becomes a legal matter. On most occasions, the results may be thrown out.
Also, if the officer operating the machine failed to have proper training on the machine, that, too, can lead to the results being thrown out.
If you have further interest in the subject that is not addressed here, please read more about this topic at our other Show Me the Law blogs for further description and elucidation. Or contact an attorney for advice specific to your special situation and legal matter.
Bryan C. Edwards is a St. Charles DWI Lawyer and practices criminal defense law across the St. Louis metro area, including St. Charles County, St. Louis City and St. Louis County with a consortium of attorneys around the state of Missouri at www.showmelawyergroup.com.