A “Common Law DWI” typically refers to a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) based on common law principles rather than statutory law or specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. Common law DWI is a legal concept that relies on evidence of impairment observed by a police officer rather than a strict BAC threshold.
In common law DWI cases, law enforcement officers and prosecutors use observations and field sobriety tests to establish that a driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
This can include evidence of erratic driving, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol or drugs on the driver’s breath or in the vehicle, and poor performance on field sobriety tests. In these cases, the prosecution seeks to prove that the driver was impaired to the extent that they were incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.
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It’s important to note that the specific elements and definitions of DWI or DUI offenses can vary by jurisdiction, and some states primarily rely on statutory BAC limits to determine impairment. However, many jurisdictions recognize both per se DWI offenses (based on BAC levels) and common law DWI offenses (based on observed impairment).
Common law DWI charges can be challenging to defend against because they rely heavily on the subjective judgment of the arresting officer and the presentation of evidence related to the driver’s behavior and appearance.