Why Time is of the Essence in Dwi Cases - Sparrow Law Firm

While law enforcement officers have many ways of charging someone with DWI in North Carolina, there are also many defenses to the charge.

One of the defenses was used in a criminal case against the former chief executive of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, who successfully argued that he had been held too long in jail after his DWI arrest.

The DWI charge was dismissed against CRVA’s former chief executive by a Mecklenburg district court judge on Monday. The 48-year-old former chief executive was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol on May 22.

A magistrate judge had granted the man an unsecured bond at 1:15 a.m. on May 23, but he was not released from jail until 4:34 a.m. The man testified that he didn’t know why it took so long to let him out of jail, but he certainly didn’t want to be there longer than he had to.

“He should have been out within an hour,” the judge said before throwing out the charges. “Instead, it took three hours.”

The reason time is of the essence following DWI arrests is that blood-alcohol content drops with time, so people who are charged with DWI are to be let out of jail as soon as possible so that they can begin building their defenses, which may include an independent blood test or witnesses observing behavior.

While the N.C. Supreme Court hasn’t established exactly how tong is too long to be held in jail after a DWI charge, it is clear that holding DWI defendants in jail for longer than is necessary can lead to the charges being thrown out. However, the prosecutor on the case does have the opportunity to appeal.

Source: WCNC.com, “Judge dismisses DWI charge against CRVA’s former chief executive,” Gary L. Wright, Nov. 5, 2012