This is Part 15 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “How a Breathalyzer Relates to a DWI Charge“
We tend to break DWI cases down into three phases. We look at the reason that the person was originally stopped. Were they lawfully stopped? Is that stop accompanied by reasonable suspicion? Any time you’re caught for speeding or you’re weaving on the road, the officer has to have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring. The first analysis is, “Did he have a lawful reason to stop you?”
The second area we look at is, “Did the officer gather enough evidence there, roadside?” He will note if you did the tests, any odor he smelled, how you got out of the car, if you had slurred speech, and if your eyes were red and glassy. What we look at is, “Did he gather enough to actually arrest you?” That’s what we call probable cause to arrest.
Assuming that there is a lawful reason to stop the car, and there’s a lawful reason to actually place you under arrest, then we look at the breath test. Was there an observation period? Was preventative maintenance done on the instrument? Was this officer a licensed chemical analyst? There are so many little details that go into the proper foundation for the entry of that breath test.