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Your DWI defense begins with the traffic stop

No one wants to be saddled with a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) on their record. The consequences of a conviction for drunk driving can affect nearly every facet of your life going forward.

But it is important to understand that the defense for a DWI does not begin inside the courtroom. Instead, it begins as soon as you glimpse those blue lights behind you in the rearview mirror and pull over. To that end, below is some important information to keep in mind.

You will likely be videotaped

While there are exceptions, most police departments have cruisers equipped with audio-video recordings that record the traffic stops the officers make each shift. If your video shows you staggering and stumbling during your interactions with the police, you can expect to see that recording used as evidence against you later in court.

Don't agree to attempt sobriety tests

The cop asks you to do the walk-and-turn sobriety test or to stand on one foot while balancing yourself. These tests can be impossible for sober people to accomplish in the controlled environment of their own doctors' offices. Now, here you are on the side of a Missouri road, maybe with fast-paced traffic whizzing along only inches from you as you attempt to comply.

It can be nearly impossible to complete these tests satisfactorily. Not to mention that much of the interpretation is quite subjective to the officer's discretion. Ditto for the horizontal gaze nystagmus test which is likely to yield false positives.

You are not required to take the roadside breath test

Many drivers believe that they are compelled to breathe into the roadside Breathalyzer. Refusing will in all likelihood result in a trip to the jail to blow into the equipment there, however. But the results of that test can also be challenged if the police officers failed to properly calibrate the machine and record the results.

Not blowing into the main Breathalyzer is problematic

If you decide not to blow at all once you are taken to the police station, you face serious consequences for doing so that can include a loss of your license to drive in the state. You will likely also be arrested at that point regardless of your cooperation — or lack thereof.

Evidentiary challenges may be helpful

In most cases, police will need to prove that they had probable cause to stop the defendant. Your St. Louis criminal defense attorney can mount a legal challenge to any evidence that does not meet legal grounds for a traffic stop.

Of course, the best defense for a DWI is not to put oneself in that position. If you plan to drink, also plan on a sober ride home. Those who make other choices may need to seek the counsel of an experienced DWI defense attorney.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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