Frequently Asked Questions
If I'm stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I've been drinking, what should I say?
Answer: You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions. A polite "I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions" is a good reply. On the other hand, saying that you had one or two beers is incriminating!
What is the officer looking for during the initial detention at the scene?
What should I do if I'm asked to take field sobriety tests?
What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the highways??
What is SATOP?
What is an SR-22?
What is an SIS?
What is a Burden of Proof and How Does it Apply to the Prosecutor in My Case?
Answer: In every DWI case, the prosecution has the burden of offering evidence to prove that you committed the acts for which you are being charged. There are different levels of proof depending upon the nature of the case and the charges against you. We've all heard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," but you may not realize that this does not apply in all cases. However, regardless of the level of proof required, the prosecuting attorney is faced with the pressure of presenting a case against you. This pressure can be a powerful bargaining tool when moving forward with your case.
TWO TYPES OF CASES MEANS TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROOF
In an administrative hearing regarding the loss of your license for refusal to blow or for blowing over .08%, the standard of proof is much lower than that of a criminal case. The state attorney need only show that the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving in violation of an alcohol related offense. Police officers look at many different factors in determining probable cause, and there is no set formula that the courts use in upholding an officer's determination. Some things that the officer will testify to and the court will take into consideration include: your speech, balance, redness of eyes, odor of alcohol, your attitude, your performance on field sobriety tests, and even the officer's experience with DWI cases.
In the criminal case against you, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you 1) operated a motor vehicle, and 2) that you did so while in an intoxicated or drugged condition. If the prosecution cannot prove both of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, a jury cannot convict you. The prosecution will use many of the same factors in building a criminal case against you as the state attorney uses in an administrative case. In addition to the factors listed above, a refusal to submit to blood alcohol testing can be used as proof against you. However, the prosecution must meet a much higher standard of proof than that which is required in an administrative hearing.
When advising you on your case and planning for your administrative hearing and criminal case, a good attorney will review all of these factors as well as many, many others and build a case to undermine the state's evidence. You should obtain a copy of your police report as well, so that you can alert your attorney to any inconsistencies or false statements in the officer's report. Your side of the story is just as important and valuable as the officer's.