Facing DWI charges in Missouri can be scary. You may be unsure of what to expect and how you can ever fight back and protect yourself. A conviction can result in penalties that range from loss of driving privileges to time behind bars, and you understand a strong defense is crucial – but where do you start?
One of the most critical components of a DWI defense is to carefully examine every interaction you had with law enforcement. If you experienced a violation of your rights or there was no probable cause for your traffic stop, it could compromise the prosecution's entire case. In order to have a valid reason to pull a motorist over for suspected drunk driving, there must be reasonable suspicion.
What does reasonable suspicion mean?
Police officers cannot pull over a driver for just any reason. There must be valid grounds to do so, such as when a driver is demonstrating behavior that could indicate he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Deciding whether to stop a person is up to the discretion of the officer, but some of the most common reasons for DWI traffic stops include the following:
- Speeding and slowing down randomly
- Driving aggressively
- Swerving or straddling the center line
- Passing motorists in no-passing zones or following too closely
- Stopping in the road for no reason or braking erratically
Stopping a motorist may be a judgment call that an officer has to make in the moment. While they have a vast amount of freedom in taking necessary actions to keep the public safe, they cannot unnecessarily prohibit people from going where they want to go or stopping people without cause.
The elements of your defense strategy
By carefully examining your case, it may reveal there was a problem with the traffic stop that ultimately resulted in your arrest and the drunk driving charges against you. Whether it was your first offense or you have previous DWI convictions on your record, your future and freedom are on the line, and you do not have to simply accept that a guilty plea or conviction is inevitable.
A complete assessment of your case can determine if you experienced a violation of your rights or if there was a problem with your traffic stop. An experienced defense attorney can help you understand the optimal defense strategy for your unique situation and advocate for your interests as you fight DWI charges.