When a person is accused of a DWI, often they feel as though they’ve already been found guilty. But the dismissal of DWI cases is not as uncommon as many people think. Often, the evidence obtained by police officers is inconclusive, or police procedure was not strictly adhered to. In some cases, the evidence falls in favor of the accused. A blood test result may come back negative for alcohol. Under such circumstances, hundreds of DWI cases are dropped every year.
Yet a state report recently came down hard on Mecklenburg County prosecutors, claiming that they dismissed 47 percent of all DWI cases in 2011-2012 – more than double the state average of dismissed DWIs. Mecklenburg prosecutors came under heavy fire in the wake of this report, as observers claimed they didn’t take drunk driving cases seriously.
But the prosecutor’s office defended their actions, stating that the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) did not carefully examine the cases that it was tallying up.
According to one prosecutor, Mecklenburg County recently switched to a new warrant system, which is a computerized system that can be used statewide. Mecklenburg prosecutors took the opportunity to purge their records of almost 1,000 old DWI cases. These cases were several years old, and, in the words of the prosecutors, were cases that they were “never, ever going to be able to prosecute.” Those old cases were allegedly added to the State Auditor’s Office report, skewing the statistics.
Though the SAO says it stands by its research, a local defense attorney said he agreed with the assertions of the prosecutor’s office, saying “We’re certainly not living in a county where the district attorney’s office doesn’t take these cases seriously.”
Source: WSOC-TV, “Mecklenburg Co. DA firing back at state report over DWI dismissals” Kathryn Burcham, Sep. 26, 2013