Breaking news from the state of New Jersey reveals just how our system of justice is based on trust. In that story, a police officer in charge of calibrating Breathalyzers is accused of skipping a crucial step in the calibration process on three Alcotest Breathalyzer machines. The accusations have resulted in the sergeant facing criminal charges involving falsifying public documents.
What happens in cases like this? Every conviction that happened where one of these three suspect breathalyzer was used is now in question. The reports indicated that over 20,000 DWI convictions are implicated. This will likely lead to some of those cases being overturned and many more challenging conviction because of the new allegations. In fact, the local department has appointed a special judge to hear those cases and deal with the glut of litigation that is likely to follow.
A System of Trust
This case underscores how the justice system we rely on to determine guilt and innocence counts on a large amount of trust. In a typical DWI investigation the police officer must show that that initially he observed a drive acting in a suspicious way, or breaking a traffic law. Then, the investigation begins. Such an investigation would include questions about the driver’s drinking choices, a field sobriety test, and breathalyzers or blood draws.
This entire process is used to collect evidence that is intended to be presented in court against a defendant on DWI charges. And the system used to present that evidence is based on trust. One is asked to trust the police officer and his observations; that the equipment used to collect evidence like breath residue and blood for alcohol content is working properly and calibrated; and, that the evidence is fairly collected under the restraints of imposed by the U.S. Constitution.
But even though our system of justice is arguably the best in the world, we can not really be required to take all the evidence and positions put forward by the state on trust. That is where the role of defense attorneys is so important. The legal system in America is an adversarial one. That means that in criminal and civil cases there are two sides to a case. Each side is under an obligation to put forward opposing views of the law, facts, and what they mean. Then, a neutral decision maker (judge or jury) passes judgment on which position is correct.
This system notwithstanding, there is still a great deal of trust placed on people with authority to act honestly and above board. When that does not happen, as is the accusation in this case, the entire system is undermined and it leads to an increased skepticism about the roles filled by public servants and their motivations. It does not take many slip ups, like this one, to really damage the system entirely.
If you are facing DWI charges in the Dallas area, you need the legal team who will challenge the prosecution at every point. Only in this way will you be ensured to get the best possible defense of your case, without having to base all the conclusions in the case on trust. Contact us today at The Wilder DWI Defense Firm.