There are a number of ways that hiring a good DWI lawyer can help you avoid lots
of unintended consequences.
First of all, you should know that the Arkansas legislature passed a law that makes it
impossible for a person to plea bargain a DWI. It is illegal, prosecutors cannot do it,
and judges won't do it. So we start from the position that every DWI case in
Arkansas should go to trial (if the court is following the law).
A police officer has to have probable cause to make a DWI stop. That's the first place
the DWI lawyer looks to find improper conduct. If there was no probable cause, the
resulting stop is no good, and the defendant should prevail.
Next we look at field sobriety. Police officers very rarely perform standardized
field-sobriety testing (SFST) competently. This means that an attorney who knows
how the testing should be performed should be able to make the officer look like a
buffoon on the witness stand. We show the court that if the officer didn't perform
the testing "by the book," the results of the testing are invalid. A defense on this
point may involve hiring an expert who wrote the manual on field sobriety, to testify
that the officer's actions in your case did not conform to the requirements of the
Then we look to objective testing measures, such as portable breath testing (PBT)
and the breathalyzer (BAC) test. PBT testing is not admissible evidence in Arkansas
courts, as it fails to meet the minimum standards imposed by the Arkansas
Department of Health for a valid testing measure, to be used in court proceedings.
However, PBT results can give the defense lawyer some indication as to whether the
defendant's blood alcohol content was rising or falling at the time of the stop, which
may suggest the use of other admissible evidence. Further, sometimes a PBT result
can alert the attorney to a medical condition or other factor that may play into the
defense. The objective test that really matters in these cases is the BAC test. This is
the test that, if given correctly, will be taken seriously by the Court. In Arkansas,
intoxication is defined by a BAC finding of .08 or higher. This translates to 8
milligrams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, and the definition is set out by statute.
Challenging a BAC result may involve issuing a subpoena for the technician who
calibrated the machine, or the official for the Department of Health who certified it.
We also look to the communication between the officer and the accused, particularly
what took place on the night of the stop. We look to the “statement of rights" form
that the accused is required to sign. We also look to the representations that the
officer made to the accused about his right to alternative blood testing.
Finally, as most DWI cases originate in the District Courts, any good DWI defense
contemplates that the case may result in a loss in the District Court system. If you
lose in District Court, you have a right to a "do-over" in the Circuit Court.
This "do-over" is from scratch—like the first trial never happened. The reason many good
cases result in a loss in District Court is because a lot of District Court judges
(particularly in rural areas) simply do not acquit DWI defendants, ever, so as not to
offend the community. Remember, these judges are elected officials, and generally,
they don't want to be accused of being "soft on crime." MADD (Mothers Against
Drunk Driving) and other similar groups put an amazing amount of pressure on
judges, many times by staging "sit-ins" in court, and through social media
campaigns. There is no doubt that in some instances, it is appropriate to throw the
book at offenders; however, that should never come at the expense of justice and
fairness for each and every defendant, given the facts of his or her particular case.
If you need help on a DWI-related case, give us a call as soon as possible. We would
love to help you come up with a solution.