Defending a DWI Raleigh Case: Phase II: Personal Contact

The next step in a DWI arrest is Phase II: Personal Contact. During this Phase, the police officer will approach the car, and observe the driver, the driver’s car, and any of the driver’s actions which might show that the driver has been drinking.

For instance, the officer will look for such things as:

  • bloodshot eyes,
  • fumbling with the driver’s license,
  • difficulty finding the insurance card,
  • dirty or disheveled clothing,
  • and alcoholic beverages in the vehicle.

The officer will be listening for slurred speech, and admissions of drinking or drug use, inconsistent answers and abusive language or whether the motorist asks the officer to repeat questions.

Other signs the officer is looking for during Phase 2 are the odor of cover-up scents such as mints, mouthwash, perfume or cologne.

While the officer will usually point out some facts that suggest the driver was drunk, in most cases there are dozens of signs of intoxication that the officer does not point out.

A top DWI lawyer in Raleigh will point all of the clues that the police officer did not point out.

The key to this Phase of the arrest is figuring out whether the police officer detained the driver too long. If, for instance, the officer stopped the car because the driver was speeding, and the officer keeps the driver for an excessive period of time in order to see whether the driver has been drinking, the officer may have violated the driver’s constitutional rights.

That’s because the police officer, when stopping a car on reasonable suspicion or because the driver was speeding, weaving, or had headlights out, is only allowed to keep the driver so long as it takes to issue a citation or develop additional facts of a DWI.

An officer who keeps the driver stopped for too long may have violated the driver’s rights. A Judge, seeing such facts, will probably throw out the DWI case because the driver’s rights were violated.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.