The North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Knoll dismissed charges of impaired driving in three separate cases due to substantial statutory violations related to the setting of conditions of pretrial release that prejudiced the defendant’s ability to gain access to witnesses.
In Knoll, the defendant was stopped at 1:15pm and charged with driving while impaired. He was transported to Intake where he provided a chemical analysis of his breath at 2:31pm. His breath alcohol concentration was found to be .30. Upon appearing before a magistrate, he was given a secured bond of $300. Between 4:00pm and 5:00pm, the defendant made several requests to call his father, and was finally allowed to call his father at 5:00pm. After speaking with the defendant, the defendant’s father spoke with the magistrate and told him that he wanted to come pick the defendant up immediately. The magistrate informed the defendant’s father that he could not pick up the defendant until 11:00pm. At 11:00pm, the defendant’s father came to the jail to post bond. The defendant’s father stated that when he spoke with the defendant over the phone, he appeared oriented and coherent, and not noticeably impaired.
The Supreme Court found that the defendant’s confinement came during a crucial period in which he could have gathered evidence by: (1) having witnesses observe the defendant and form opinions of the defendant’s condition following the arrest, (2) lost the opportunity to secure independent proof of sobriety, and (3) lost the opportunity to secure a subsequent test for blood alcohol content. As such, the Supreme Court dismissed the driving while impaired charges against the defendant.
After Knoll, to establish a basis for dismissing impaired driving charges based upon driving with an alcohol concentration that equals or exceeds the per se limit of .08, a defendant must (1) demonstrate a substantial statutory violation of his or her right to pretrial release, and (2) demonstrate that the defendant was prejudiced by the violation. Successfully establishing a prejudice is a high hurdle to meet and Knoll typically only permits the dismissal of impaired driving charges in extraordinary cases.
If you would like to arrange a consultation with a DWI attorney, contact Adkins Law. Adkins Law serves Mecklenburg County and the Lake Norman area.