Anyone who has stayed out late on the weekend knows that DWI checkpoints are not uncommon in the St. Louis area. The local police love setting them up all over the place and commonly set them up in high traffic areas, such as Dougherty Ferry Rd, Manchester Rd. and Olive Street Rd Recently, one of our DWI clients (initials K.K.) was stopped after a St. Louis Blues hockey game at a checkpoint near Ballwin Missouri. She admitted to having “a couple” of beers over the course of the evening and was arrested and allegedly refused to take a breath test. In Missouri, if you are found to have voluntarily refused to take a breath test you are subject to an automatic 1 year license revocation. A revocation that can often be stopped if you hire a good DWI lawyer who successfully stops it by filing a “Petition for Review” and then successfully handles the case getting the revocation dismissed and expunged.
In this particular case, just to name a few, there were many issues withe the reporting police officer’s field sobriety tests, there were many technical errors which when argued together all the small errors combine to cast doubt on the police officer’s credibility. Some of the major mistakes in this case were the officers failure to properly perform the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, or that test the cops do where you follow their finger or a pen with you eyes back and forth. Another major mistake was when the officer asked our client to do a walk and turn test (take 9 steps on a line and then 9 steps back); he did not do it on an actual line, but had her use an imaginary line. Sometime police can get away with this depending on where the DWI stop takes place, there may be no marked line to use, however, when a DWI checkpoint is established, a line to walk on must be used.
I could make this article about how the result was very favorable to our client long and detailed, but the bottom line is that even little mistakes by the arresting officer are important. 10 little mistakes are often just as good or even better then 1 big mistake by the arresting officer. Every case must be prepared as if there will be a trial, even tough 95% of the cases are resolved through a dismissal or favorable plea deal generally involving unsupervised probation. In this particular case involving K.K. she had to do a little community service and a SATOP class, she walked away from the case with less than $300 in fines and a clean criminal record and a clean driving record. The 1 year automatic license revocation was dismissed.
Could she have won her case at trial? Probably 50%-70% chance she would have won, but when the plea deal is too good to pass up, why take the chance? Our goal is to have your case ready for trial but get the best plea deal possible so you don’t have to go to trial, we prepare for the worst and hope for the best and in that process it shows the prosecuting attorney that their chances of winning at trial go down and thus better plea deals for our clients than what most lawyers can achieve.