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OWI Charges Could Be Dismissed If Police Fail to Follow Procedure

If you have been arrested for drunk driving you might think you are at the mercy of the arresting officer. However, one of the best defenses available to you may be to think offensively about your arrest. The arresting officer must follow police protocol. If she failed to do so, that could be grounds for dismissing the charges.

When a police officer stops a vehicle and subsequently arrests the driver for drunk driving, usually referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI) in the state of Wisconsin, there are rules and guidelines she must adhere to in order for the arrest to be valid. An officer can stop you for traffic violations, vehicle maintenance issues or suspicion of OWI. However, if she arrests you for OWI without following proper police procedure the case could be dismissed.

Failure of Police Procedure During a Traffic Stop

Although the arresting officer is allowed some discretion, there are a few caveats involved: 

  • Suspicion of OWI must be based on evidence of erratic, reckless or dangerous driving; failure to use a turn signal would be a reason to pull you over, but does not equate to drunk driving. 
  • The officer can't force you to take field sobriety tests, although this may or may not help your case. Additionally, the arresting officer must be able to prove there was reasonable suspicion of your intoxication before administering such tests.  
  • The arresting officer must take extenuating circumstances into consideration. If you're nervous, you may not be able to intelligibly count backwards from 100. If the roads are slippery or dark, or you have balance issues, you may not be able to walk a straight line very well. 
  • Although you are required to submit to chemical tests of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the arresting officer must be able to prove there was probable cause to administer blood or breathalyzer tests. 

A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are arrested for drunk driving, you are responsible for remaining polite, cooperative and aware. The arresting officer is responsible for proving probable cause for tests and/or arrest, the proper administration of field sobriety tests and truthful and proper completion of arrest reports.

You are entitled to contact a criminal defense attorney who can help determine whether proper procedure was followed during your traffic stop and arrest. Of course you have to abide by the law -- but police do, too.

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