Many people wonder what the best defenses are to a DWI case, and there are many possible defenses out there, but few have the same effect as a poorly trained police officer. During the defense of a DWI case it is incredible how often a police officer will appear to testify without having reviewed either training materials or the police report from the incident. People often ask what are the chances of winning a hearing or a trial in a DWI case, but it is always difficult to answer a question like that until the police officer has testified about the facts of the case. Most times there are multiple opportunities for an aggressive DWI lawyer to question a police officer during a case before the need for an actual criminal trial. There are driver’s license hearings, in Missouri criminal defendants can often request a deposition of the police officer, and there could even be pretrial motions where the officer will have to testify.
Clients will often review the police report and feel that the case will be near impossible to win based upon the observations the police officer documented in the police report. A police report is a one-sided account of what happened, and the police officer gets to write the report without having anything called into question. For example, a police officer may check a box to indicate an observation he made on a Field Sobriety Test, but when questioned about that observation on the stand he may not remember what happened. It is also very possible that the officer cannot testify as to the proper procedures that must be followed during a DWI investigation. This becomes particularly clear when police officers testify about the Field Sobriety Tests. Even though every police officer in the State of Missouri receives DWI training at the police academy, it is not nearly enough training for a DWI case because DWI investigations are legally and scientifically complex and technical investigations.
There are several red flags that can give an indication that a police officer may not be well trained in the area of DWI investigations. First, the officer may be older and still prescribe to the “I know a drunk when I see a drunk” theory of investigation. Unfortunately for these officers, that form of investigation will not hold up in court under the scrutiny of a qualified DWI lawyer. Second, the officer may be freshly out of the police academy. Many times these young police officers have been well trained, but they lack the practical experience to handle anything except the most straightforward DWI investigation properly. It is very similar to a young person just out of college who has learned many things in theory, but needs time to completely adapt to the daily rigors of an office atmosphere. It is always important to consult with a qualified DWI lawyer because the facts of any DWI case must be thoroughly tested and weighed.