A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
Wyoming’s DWUI statute, Wyo. Stat. §31-5-233(b), states that:
No person shall drive or have actual physical control of any vehicle within this state if the person:
(i) Has an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) or more;
(ii) has an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) as measured within two (2) hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle following a lawful arrest resulting from a valid traffic stop; or
(iii) To a degree which renders him incapable of safely driving:
(A) Is under the influence of alcohol;
(B) Is under the influence of a controlled substance; or
(C) Is under the influence of a combination of any of the elements named in subparagraphs (A) or (B).
The statute goes on to state that, at trial,
the amount of alcohol in the person’s blood at the time alleged as shown by chemical analysis of the person’s blood, urine, or breath, or other bodily substance shall give rise to the following presumptions:
(i) If there was at that time an alcohol concentration of five one-hundredths of one percent (0.05%) or less, it shall be presumed that the person was not under the influence of alcohol;
(ii) If there was at that time an alcohol concentration of more than five one-hundredths of one percent (0.05%) and less than eight one-hundredths of one percent (0.08%), that fact shall not give rise to any presumption that the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol, but it may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was under the influence of alcohol to a degree which renders him incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle.
A closer reading of Wyoming’s DWUI statute reveals a few key points that can be used when defending someone accused of a DWUI.
First and most obvious is that if a person has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher they have violated Wyoming’s DWUI statute.
However, Wyoming’s DWUI statute identifies some arguments that can be used when defending someone facing a Wyoming DWUI charge.
First, if the sample of the driver’s blood, urine, or breath was not taken within two hours after the arrest, a criminal defense lawyer can challenge the validity of the evidence against you. In some cases, this discrepancy can be enough to convince the prosecutor to offer a favorable plea deal, or even dismiss the case. This means that the timeline of your arrest can be very important.
Second, the statute makes clear that sample must be taken “following a lawful arrest resulting from a valid traffic stop.” This means that if the traffic stop was not valid, or if the arrest was not lawful, the DWUI charge cannot stand.
Why might a traffic stop be invalid, or an arrest not lawful? There are countless reasons, but this provision of the statute paves the way for your attorney to argue that the traffic stop was invalid, or that the arrest was unlawful.
For a traffic stop to be valid, police must have a reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime had been committed. In many cases this involves a minor traffic violation like driving with a headlight out, drifting left of center, or rolling through a stop sign. But the fact remains that without a valid reason to initiate the traffic stop, the DWUI charge cannot stand.
Likewise, if the arrest was unlawful the DWUI charge cannot proceed.
An arrest is unlawful if it violates the Constitution, and specifically if the “search or seizure” was made without a warrant or without probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed.
This means that, to arrest someone for DWUI, police must have probable cause to believe that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The police must be able to point to something specific that makes them a driver was under the influence, and that officer reasonably believes there is evidence that a crime has been committed.
Section (c) of the statute addresses presumptions at trial based on a driver’s BAC.
If a person’s BAC is below .05%, that person is presumed to not be under the influence of alcohol. The driver could still be under the influence of drugs, but this means that the prosecutor must prove the case using testimony from the arresting officers to shows that the driver was under the influence of drugs or was unable to safely operate the vehicle.
If the person’s BAC was between .05 and .08%, there is no presumption either way as to whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol. A prosecutor could still attempt to secure a conviction if the police officer believed the driver was unable to safely operate the vehicle with a BAC below .08%, but the driver’s BAC would not create a presumption of intoxication and the prosecutor would need to use other evidence to prove intoxication.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a Wyoming DWUI, hire a team of experienced DWUI defense professionals as quickly as possible.
At the Just Criminal Law Group, our team works hard to protect your one shot at justice.
We know the law, and can offer advice and design a strategy to defend you against a Wyoming DWUI charge. Our founder, attorney Christina L. Williams, is a former prosecutor who intimately understands how the Wyoming court system works. She uses her knowledge and experience to evaluate the evidence and identify any inconsistencies that could be used to secure a Not Guilty verdict or lead to a favorable plea bargain.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.