Sober woman charged with DUI: Three ways she fought back

This case provides an example of three different strategies used to fight a DUI.

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a serious criminal allegation. It is an allegation to fight, especially when a sober individual is accused of drunk driving. A recent case provides an example of sober woman who was charged with drunk driving and three different ways she fought back.

Strategy #1: Get rid of the charges

The first step involves fighting the charges. In this case, officers conducted a traffic stop of a woman due to an expired license plate. The woman promptly provided proof of valid license plates, but the officer extended the stop, stating he noticed the smell of alcohol.

Based on this allegation, the officer conducted a field sobriety test, took a blood sample and cited the woman for DUI which comes with a required court appearance within two weeks.

The results of the blood sample indicated a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.01 - well below the legal limit of 0.05. Based on this information, the court dismissed the charges.

Strategy #2: Fight the extended stop

Although the court eventually dismissed the charges, the woman had to deal with a criminal charge for over three months. During this time, she hired legal counsel and had to explain to employers and others the presence of the charge even though she was innocent. As a result, when the court dropped the charges the accused sued the county.

In this lawsuit the victim argues she exhibited no signs of intoxication during the stop. She states the officer had no evidence to support allegations of DUI other than a faint aroma of alcohol from the single beer the accused consumed with lunch. As such, the victim argues the officer lacked probable cause to expand the stop and require field sobriety testing.

Ultimately, the court stated the smell was sufficient to detain the victim.

Strategy #3: Fight the prosecution's strategy

The victim also claims the county moved forward with "malicious prosecution" when it processed a criminal DUI charge without first receiving the lab results from the blood draw. This strategy results in the county moving forward with criminal charges before it has probable cause to support the allegations - a second violation of the victim's constitutional rights.

In its holding, the federal court states the plaintiff must allege a violation of a federal right to support allegations of malicious prosecution. A victim could support this claim by establishing an officer violated the victim's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. An unlawful arrest could meet this requirement. The court states the plaintiff did not properly meet this element. As such, the court found in favor of the county.

Lessons for those accused of drunk driving

Ultimately, the woman's DUI charges were dismissed. This case provides a valuable look into the complexity of DUI cases. It is important to take allegations seriously and fight the charges - often with multiple defensive strategies. An attorney experienced in these matters can help.

North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.