Case Studies: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

Manager Avoids DWI Conviction After Jury Trial Acquittal

A telecommunications facility manager retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after police arrested her on a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge after a traffic stop for speeding. Our client maintained that she had not been speeding and had not exhibited any signs of intoxication when police pulled her over. She agreed to a breath test that showed a blood alcohol level of .04, half of the .08 minimum for a DWI charge. But police maintained that our client's appearance clearly indicated intoxication, so police obtained a blood draw after our client's transport to the station. The blood draw confirmed the .04 alcohol level but showed other levels of potentially intoxicating prescription medication. Our client confirmed to us that she was on a prescription medication that cautioned care in the operation of motor vehicles but that she had been on the medication for years while suffering no intoxicating influence. Our cross-examination of the investigating officer's testimony revealed doubts about the quality of his observations of signs of intoxication. Our cross-examination of the toxicologist further raised doubts about any influence from prescription medication. Confident in our client's presentation, we presented her testimony in defense. The jury acquitted our client of the charge. Juror interviews afterward confirmed the impact on their decision of skilled cross-examination.

Surveyor Defeats Open Container Charge on Constitutional Defense

A professional land surveyor retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on an open container charge. The arrest arose after police stopped our client's vehicle for alleged turn-signal and lane violations. Our client maintained that he had not turned his vehicle or changed lanes for miles and that the police had probably instead stopped him because of the sporty appearance of his vehicle and possibly because of his race. Our client acknowledged that he had a bottle of wine on the back seat of the vehicle, the seal of which was broken and the cork replaced, that he was bringing home from a restaurant. But our client further maintained that the bottle was not visible and rather hidden under his coat. Police discovered the bottle only after instructing him to get out of the vehicle and put his hands on the vehicle's hood while they searched the passenger compartment for weapons and drugs. Our client maintained that he had given the police no cause to suspect weapons or drugs. On this account, we requested dash cam and body cam video, a review of which largely confirmed our client's account. We then moved to suppress the open container evidence, arguing the unconstitutionality of the stop, instruction to get out of the vehicle, and vehicle search. The judge agreed that the officers had no probable cause for a vehicle search while not ruling on our other contentions. With the evidence suppressed, the prosecution had no support for their open container charge. The court dismissed the case, exonerating our client.

Sales Representative Successfully Defends Parked Car DWI Charge

A sales representative retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on a parked car DWI charge. The sales representative regularly drove long distances in the course of his employment. The sales representative would also occasionally park and sleep in his car on those long drives. On this occasion, the sales representative had pulled his car over at an interstate rest stop, turned off the engine and lights, removed the keys from the ignition, locked the doors, and tipped his driver's seat all the way back to sleep. Before doing so, though, the sales representative had popped open a couple of beers to catch the last innings of a baseball game on the radio. He then dozed off to sleep, only to have an officer wake him by pounding on the driver's window. He sat up, put the keys in the ignition, and turned on the ignition to roll down the driver's side window. The officer pointed to the empty beer cans and told our client he was under arrest on a DWI charge. Our review of the police incident report and body cam video tended to confirm our client's account that the vehicle was parked, the engine off, and keys out of the ignition with the driver's seat tipped all the way back and our client asleep. At trial, we elicited this information on cross-examination and then, at the close of the prosecution case, moved to dismiss. The judge held our motion in abeyance pending our defense case in which we presented our client's above testimony. The trial judge granted our motion to dismiss at the close of the evidence in the case.

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