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Challenging a DWI Traffic Stop

By Randall & Stump excels in criminal defense, serving clients in Charlotte, NC & other surrounding cities.
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Category Criminal Defense, DWI
Monday, January 28, 2019


While you may have made an unfortunate mistake by drinking and driving in violation of North Carolina’s DWI (driving while impaired) law, an arrest isn’t the end of your case. You can’t be convicted of drunk driving until proven guilty in court, and there are multiple opportunities along the way to defend your rights and freedoms. One option is challenging a DWI traffic stop. If the police don’t strictly comply with the law during this type of encounter, you could have a strong defense against drunk driving charges.

There are many complex issues involved with DWI stops, so it’s important to retain solid legal representation to fight for your rights. At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our Charlotte DWI lawyers have extensive knowledge of the laws that apply to your case, and we’re adept at strategies for defending drunk driving charges. To schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case, contact us today at (980) 237-4579.

Legal Basis for Police to Pull You Over

You might be surprised to find out that DWI roadside stops are more rooted in constitutional law than state drunk driving laws. The issue centers on protection against unlawful searches and seizures. Generally, law enforcement must have a legal basis before they can act. Therefore, to understand your grounds for challenging a DWI traffic stop, you need to understand why police would pull you over.

Traffic Violations
Police have good reason to pull you over when they see you violating traffic laws. The initial intent is to give you a ticket, and their observations alone provide the legal basis to stop you. If they suspect that you’re driving drunk during the encounter, they can then investigate and arrest you for DWI. It can be difficult to raise a defense against drunk driving charges that stem from a traffic violation, though it’s not impossible. Red light cameras or surveillance footage may provide support for your case.

Reasonable Suspicion
Even when you’re complying with all traffic laws, police may have grounds to pull you over if they have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that you are drunk driving. There’s no specific test for determining whether the facts support this suspicion. Judges look to the surrounding circumstances, such as:

  • You were driving over or under the posted limit
  • You remained stopped at a stop sign for a questionable length of time
  • Though remaining within your lane, you were weaving while driving

Reasonable and articulable suspicion is a subjective concept, and courts typically give great regard to descriptions in a police report. Still, the suspicion must be based on obvious, objective facts. A potential defense would be showing that another police officer, faced with the same circumstances, would not have pulled you over.

The Next Step in Challenging a DWI Traffic Stop

Even when you have grounds to contest the legal basis for police pulling you over, it’s important to understand how it can form the basis of a defense. Constitutional law principles apply once again, through the “exclusionary rule.” Any evidence police gather from you pursuant to an unlawful search or seizure is not admissible in court. A police report, chemical test, results from a field sobriety test, and other facts must be excluded – if they were illegally obtained. When the prosecution is prevented from using this evidence, there may be no way to show that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Trust a Charlotte DWI Defense Lawyer to Fight Your Charges

Though this overview on challenging a DWI traffic stop may be helpful, there may be other defenses based upon the details of your case. At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our Charlotte DWI lawyers will develop a strategy to fight your charges from all possible fronts. Please call our firm at (980) 237-4579 to schedule a free consultation, or go online to learn more.