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Why would an illegal traffic stop matter in a DWI case?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | DWI Defense

The legality of a traffic stop preceding an arrest may be crucial to your driving while intoxicated (DWI) defense, if you are charged with impaired driving as a result of a stop. If the police stop you without legally justifiable reasons, it could amount to an unlawful stop with far-reaching implications.

The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. Therefore, if the police pull you over without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or other legal basis like a DWI checkpoint, a traffic stop could be a violation of your constitutional rights. Here is what it could mean for your DWI case.

The court may suppress the evidence obtained

The evidence obtained from an unlawful traffic stop may not be admissible in court. The court may suppress such evidence because the police acquired it illegally – by violating your rights. This happens after the defense files a successful motion to suppress, asking the court to strike out the affected evidence.

The prosecution cannot use suppressed evidence against you during a trial, nor will it be brought to the jury’s attention. Such evidence may include breath and chemical tests, field sobriety tests and even observations made by the arresting officer. Excluding this crucial evidence to your DWI case can significantly weaken the prosecution’s ability to prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt if your case goes to trial. The prosecution could reduce or drop the charges against you if the case becomes too weak to secure a conviction. You may also have greater negotiating power during plea bargains.

Ultimately, learning more about your legal rights before and during a traffic stop and seeking a qualified assessment of your case can help you mount a strong defense strategy to increase the odds of a favorable outcome.