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Judge throws out North Carolina DWI charge on defense argument

Any criminal defendant has the right to defend against the charges in a court of law. Our system of criminal justice places burdens upon the government that are intended to protect the rights of the innocent against unreasonable government intrusion, and also to protect against making out court system seem like a sort of kangaroo court.

Monday, a judge in Mecklenburg County threw out charges of driving while impaired that had been filed against the former chief of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. The man had been arrested on suspicion of DWI in May.

The process following the man's arrest was flawed, the judge essentially ruled Monday. The man was put in jail, and a magistrate had given the accused an unsecured bond at 1:15 in the morning May 23. The judge ruled that following the magistrate's decision at 1:15 a.m., the accused should have been released from custody within an hour, according to WCNC News.

The man sat in jail until 4:34 in the morning before authorities allowed his release. The judge ruled that the three hour delay was too long and dismissed the DWI charges.

Generally, a person accused of DWI faces allegations generated by the state. For instance, in a North Carolina DWI case, the arresting officer would be expected to testify as to the officer's observations of the defendant. But a person who is detained for an unreasonable amount of time after being given unsecured bond is denied the chance to meet with people who are not associated with police. The loss of that opportunity can deny the person accused of drunk driving to have others testify to refute the officer's opinion.

In North Carolina, DWI charges can come with two prongs. Most people know that the legal limit to drive is set at 0.08 percent BAC. But flaws with the testing can produce inaccurate results. Similarly, a person who is unreasonably denied access to gathering evidence in defense of the charges may certainly be denied a fair opportunity to present a defense.

In the recent Mecklenburg County case, law enforcement claims that the man accused of DWI refused to submit to a breath test. The state apparently was relying solely upon the arresting officer's opinion that the man had been drinking before driving.

The charges arose after an alleged hit-and-run crash in stop-and-go traffic in Interstate 77. Authorities say that another person called 911 after the alleged fender bender, claiming that the defendant had said everything was okay and drove away from the scene. The hit-and-run charge remains pending, as the judge's dismissal only pertained to the DWI charge.

Source: WCNC, "Judge dismisses DWI charge against CRVA's former chief executive," Gary L. Wright, Nov. 5, 2012

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