Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Illegal or improper police activity can provide grounds for DWI challenge, P.1

Last week, a 27-year-old police officer in Louisiana resigned after being accused of stealing an iPhone from the scene of a DWI crash. According to a police spokesman in Baton Rouge, the phone was not in the car when the driver was released from jail. The tracking feature on the device later showed that the phone name had been changed to the name of the officer now suspected of stealing the device.

The details of what took place have not yet fully come forth, and there has been no conviction in the case yet, but it does serve as a reminder that officers do not always act legally in the course of performing their duties. This is one reason for the importance of criminal defense.

Police officers are governed by numerous policies, procedures and laws, and the failure to abide by them can provide the basis for defense in a DWI case. There are a number of grounds on which DWI charges can be challenged due to police activity. One basis is that the traffic stop that led to the DWI arrest was improper. This can be the case where an officer bases the stop solely on a tip or anonymous call or seeing a vehicle weaving in its lane, stops a vehicle on merely a hunch.

Officers may also make an improper arrest, for a number of reasons, including faulty sobriety tests, illegal prolongation of the stop, failure to consider medical or physical conditions that may affect evaluation of intoxication, and so on.

Other grounds for challenging a DWI charge are improper blood or breath-testing. In our next post, we'll take a look at these.

Source: Associated Press, "Cop accused of stealing driver's iPhone from wreck," July 5, 2012. 2012.

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