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Cross Examination

Cross-Examination

Questioning the Evidence Provided by the Arresting Officer

The arresting officer is typically the key witness for the prosecution in a DWI case. This is usually a difficult part of court proceedings for the defense because the arresting officer will likely have much to say that supports the prosecuting attorney's allegations that the defendant was driving while intoxicated.

The officer may make statements under oath, regarding:

  • The driver's statements regarding what he/she had to drink
  • The officer's observations of the driver's behavior and any signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or the smell of alcohol on the driver's breath
  • The presence of open containers of alcohol in the vehicle at the time of the arrest
  • The driver's performance on field sobriety tests
  • The results of breath or blood tests, if the arresting officer was involved

Defense Strategy: Cross Examination

In the face of damning evidence, it may seem difficult to avoid a conviction. An attorney with extensive experience and the resources to fully investigate the matter may be able to effectively challenge the officer's testimony during cross-examination. A defense lawyer will have the opportunity to cross-examine any witness brought in to testify on the prosecution's behalf after they have had their chance to complete a direct examination. During that time, they will likely bring to light any evidence that can be used to solidify the defendant's guilt.

During a cross-examination, however, the defense attorney will have the opportunity to question the credibility of the witness, and/or create a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury about the validity of any field sobriety tests, blood and breath tests, and/or reasonable cause for the initial traffic stop. If any of these elements of the DWI arrest can be proven to be invalid, the defendant's chances of avoiding a conviction are increased.

Also, when a lawyer is highly experienced in handling a cross-examination, he or she will know how to ask the right questions to eventually lead the arresting officer to agree with the defense's side of the story—or at the very least attempt to invoke doubt in the validity of the arresting officer's earlier statements. This is why it is imperative to enlist the help of a highly qualified defense attorney.

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