Milwaukee County OWI 1st offense case dismissed: illegal arrest
How Grieve Law Got This Client’s Milwaukee OWI Dismissed through Pre-Trial Motions
In January 2017, an Operating While Intoxicated case in Milwaukee County was dismissed as a direct result of Grieve Law’s work in discrediting the arresting officer’s report and testimony. This case is an excellent example of how attorneys can use pretrial motions to limit or eliminate the prosecution’s evidence against our clients.
1. False or Inconsistent Police Reports
Very early on in this case, our client—let’s call her Jane Doe—reached out to say the arresting lied in the police report about nearly everything that occurred during the encounter. The officer claimed our client refused to roll down her window to speak with him, and only did so after being ordered multiple times to do so. She supposedly fumbled through her wallet for about four minutes to locate her driver’s license and proof of insurance. He noted her speech was slurred and there was an odor of intoxicants coming from her person—classic signs of intoxication seen in nearly all police reports for OWI cases.
We always ask our clients to review the police reports carefully and make a written list of anything incorrect, misleading, or incomplete. Ms. Doe sent us an annotated copy of the report pointing out all of the inconsistencies. Inconsistencies in reports raise questions about whether or not an officer acted in accordance with the law, opening up the possibility of challenging the legality of the arrest in a pretrial motion. Often, these motions are determined by evaluating the officer’s word against our client’s word.
2. Squad Videos and Body Cameras
Luckily, in this case, there was video from the officer's squad car. Squad and body camera footage are game changers. They make it possible to independently verify the veracity of police reports. The squad video of Ms. Doe’s arrest showed the officer asking her to roll down her window once, at which time she immediately provided the officer with her license and insurance card and spoke in a clear and crisp voice. This was all in direct contradiction to the officer’s report.
3. Motion to Suppress Evidence
Based on the false statements in the officer’s report, we filed a motion to suppress evidence from an illegal arrest. The legal argument was one of credibility: if the officer lied so brashly about Ms. Doe’s behavior and alleged signs of intoxication, how could the court be sure the officer was not lying about the signs of intoxication the squad video could not capture, like the odor of intoxicants? And if there were indeed no signs of intoxication, there could have been no legal basis for Ms. Doe to perform field sobriety tests or be arrested for drunk driving.
4. Charges Dismissed!
The court agreed. After hearing the officer’s testimony in court (which matched his statements in the report) and watching the squad video, the judge ruled the officer had lied about multiple aspects of his interaction with Ms. Doe and, consequently, her arrest was illegal. The judge granted our motion to suppress all evidence resulting from the illegal field sobriety tests and arrest. Without that evidence, the State could not proceed with its prosecution of Ms. Doe and they dismissed the charge.
Trust Us—It’s Not Our First Drunk Driving Charge Dismissal
With years of experience as prosecutors, Grieve Law knows just what to look for to get drunk driving charges dropped. Schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the best approach.
Even if it feels like the evidence is piled against you and there’s no way the charges will be dismissed outright, it’s not the end. When the prosecution won’t budge, it’s still possible to get OWI charges reduced to minimize the damage.