The results of a chemical analysis in DWI cases do not create a presumption of guilt.
RALEIGH, NC, September 02, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Mr. Marcilliat's client was charged with DWI by officers from the Wake Forest Police Department after a traffic stop for failure to come to a full and complete stop at a duly erected stop sign. The officers noted an odor of alcohol on the defendant's breath, confirmed that he had a few drinks that night, and promptly asked him to exit the vehicle to perform standardized field sobriety tests. The evidence showed that the Defendant did not display any slurred speech or other outward signs of impairment, that he performed well on field sobriety tests, and that his driving was safe and lawful other than a "rolling stop" at a stop sign. The State also presented evidence that, post-arrest, the Defendant registered a .08 breath alcohol concentration on the Intoxilyzer device.
Mr. Marcilliat argued that there was insufficient evidence of impairment to sufficiently corroborate the .08 breath alcohol concentration, and the Court agreed, finding that the defense had raised reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant was impaired. Contrary to popular belief, evidence of a defendant's BAC being at or above .08 does not mandate a North Carolina court to find the defendant guilty of DWI.
In State v. Narron, 193 N.C. App. 76, 666 S.E.2d 860 (2008), the North Carolina Court of Appeals made clear that the phrase in North Carolina's impaired driving statute stating that the "results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person's alcohol concentration," did not create a presumption of guilt, but rather constituted mere prima facie evidence of the defendant's alcohol concentration.
In other words, once the State properly admits into evidence a Defendant's alcohol concentration at or above .08, that simply authorizes the jury to find that the Defendant was impaired - it doesn't require it. As noted by a North Carolina School of Government article on the same subject (Shea Denning, "Per se impairment, reasonable doubt, margins of error, and all that lies between," North Carolina School of Government Criminal Law Blog, September 27, 2011), defense attorneys can successfully argue that the lack of evidence that the defendant was impaired "casts doubt on the veracity of the alcohol concentration results reported from the chemical analysis."
For more information about the Roberts Law Group, see our criminal defense website at RobertsLawTeam.com. Kevin Marcilliat is a skilled criminal attorney who defends clients charged with DWI, drug offenses, and property crimes, among others, in state and federal courts throughout North Carolina.
Call 866-630-2389 for a free consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The cases, facts and outcomes discussed in this press release are illustrative of the matters handled by the firm. Actual case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. Not all of the firm's case results are included on this site. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer's or law firm's past results because prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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