Individuals summoned to court after a drunk driving arrest are allowed due process in order to determine whether they are guilty of their crimes. Part of that due process requires the involved police officers to show up to court as witnesses to the arrests.
So when a state trooper recently failed to show up at court, dozens of criminal cases in which he was directly involved were dismissed, clearing the accused of all charges. Twelve of the cases involved drunk driving arrests.
According to the district attorney's office in that area, the office issued a subpoena to the police officer, but highway patrol personnel failed to deliver that subpoena to the man, resulting in his absence from the court room. The district attorney's office said it has not determined why or how this oversight occurred.
Virginia drunk driving arrests follow a similar procedure as the one that led to the dismissals of charges for these individuals, and the story underscores the importance of taking advantage of the legal process. If some of the accused individuals had decided to simply mail in a fine or forego the trial process, they could have been automatically declared guilty of their charges.
However, because they went to court, they were cleared of their charges, thanks in large part to a technicality. This technicality isn't the only way accused drunk drivers can clear their names, though. Attorneys who are experienced in handling DWI charges can explore the range of options that could save drivers from drunk driving charges or lead to lesser charges.
Of the 12 drunk driving charges that were dismissed, 10 of the individuals had no history of major offenses in the county.
Source: WFMY News 2, "Wayne Holyfield Misses Court, DWI Cases Dismissed," Mark Geary, May 1, 2012