Friday, May 5, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: Pringle Hearings As a DWI Defense Strategy

Sometimes a Pringle Can Be
the Perfect Tool

In my continuing series of blog posts concerning the use, misuse, and history of the Pringle DWI hearing I will now share a "war" story. In the lawyer world a war story is a tale told by an attorney about one of his/her cases. Sometimes they can involve the unusual, the funny, the outrageous, or even the clever.

A DWI defense lawyer can use a Pringle hearing in a number of situations. I like to have a good reason to file a motion, request a hearing, or to challenge any piece of evidence.

Pringles Hearings are Another Tool in the DWI Defense Lawyer's Toolbox

At it's bare bones a Pringle hearing challenges police conduct.
Was their STOP of the car good? Was it legally made? Was their chemical TEST good? Was it legally performed? After all a test can't be reliable if it wasn't up to snuff.

A New Year's DWI Blood Case with Distracted Cops

So my client was walking along the streets of downtown with his babe. It's New Year Eve, and this couple in love aren't walking quietly or peacefully. They are walking and laughing, joking, and maybe even swaying a bit. They are noticed by the police. In fact, they say hi to the police before getting into their car. Off they go, and warm in pursuit are the local po-po.

The police follow our couple for about three miles before deciding to stop them. The police note that the driving is not perfect, and perhaps the combination of less than perfect driving, timing (New Year's Eve), them leaving a local downtown bar, and their happiness pre-driving all add up to the more than probable drinking of alcoholic beverages.

An Engineer Who Doesn't Like the Look of the Police's Old Breath Machine 

They go through roadside tests, he naturally fails them all. An arrest is made and off to the station for a breath test. My guy, who is a bright engineer by trade takes one look at their dusty old breathalyzer and says, "hey guys can I get a blood test instead." Now legally they didn't have to take him for a blood test because legally the cops pick the test or tests they give you. But in this case, it's New Year's Eve everyone is happy, and they figured why not?

Distraction Doesn't Make for Good Driving or for High Quality Police Work 

But time just flies by and so does New Year's Eve. Everyone is distracted at the station with all the cops calling their girls and watching TV and texting their wives or what have you so they forget they just arrested this guy. He's sitting handcuffed to their bench in the other room. More than two hours after the arrest, and they're like "oh shit" we forgot ....

A Mad Run (drive) to the Hospital for the DWI Blood Test

They throw our guy into the back of their cop car, they forget to even belt him in. He's wobbling like a webble in the back seat, back and forth. Off they speed at 90 plus mph in their quest to get alcohol laced DWI blood. It's over two hours now since the time of the arrest. In years past this test would have been NULL and VOID in a court of law but with new law it's just questionable.

Old DWI Law Stated Blood or Breath Must be Obtained Within Two Hours

They get his blood at roughly two hours and fifteen minutes. Well the result is a whopper, .14 BAC. This is well over the legal limit of .08 BAC in New York State.

I Request a Pringle Hearing for this DWI Blood Case

Why do I request a Pringle DWI hearing for this blood case?

Because I don't think the blood is RELIABLE evidence of a .08 BAC. Remember that any blood or breath taken after TWO HOURS elapses is then called into question, it goes to the weight of the evidence.

The chemical test evidence is not really close to or at the time of operation so it may be less than .08 BAC at the time of driving or more than .08 BAC at the time of driving. Blood alcohol may have been rising or it may have been falling. We don't know and neither do the police. That's why the breath test manufacturer's say under two hours, state law and regulations say keep it under two hours as well. As more time goes by the accuracy drops for everything close to the time of driving a car.

Any Time a Chemical Test is Given Improperly it MUST Be Challenged

Now we are in Court, and the blood test result is highly suspect.
This blood test result is probably inaccurate.
This blood test result should not be used to even suspend my client's license to drive.
AND more importantly this blood test result shouldn't be used to convict my client of a DWI

Well the request for the Pringle just made the prosecutor, and the judge take a good look at the timing and the blood evidence in this case. At our hearing the DA offered us a DWAI, violation level offense of impaired driving. The judge happily accepted this disposition under the circumstances.

DWI .08 or more is a criminal misdemeanor. But intoxication needs good proof, not crappy, inaccurate lab results of a blood sample long after the driving has occurred.

My disclaimer: prior results don't guarantee future results. Every single case is different. No one wins all their cases. We don't win all our cases. We do our best with what we have.