An essential element that must be proven in any DWI case is that the driver was intoxicated. Generally this is proven by presenting the results of the breathalyzer test in court. However this element can also be proven by showing how bad the driver performed on field sobriety testing or eyewitness testimony. In regards to eyewitness testimony it is admissible as evidence of impairment as long as it is based on person observations. This applies mainly to police officers since their testimony is considered to be competent, admissible evidence in regards to testifying about intoxication. Lay people may also give their opinion regarding the intoxication of a driver so long as it is their personal observation. The State may also use refusal to submit to an intoxilyzer test as substantive evidence of guilt on a DWI charge.
In the case of State v. Gregory it was held a driver could be found to be impaired for the purpose of DWI based on a police officer’s testimony. State v. Gregory, 154 N.C. App. 718 (2002). In that case the driver refused to submit to the intoxilyzer test. The evidence of impairment was the officer’s testimony that the driver changed lanes without signaling, would speed and jam on his brakes before stopping in the middle of a lane of traffic, and he had red, glassy eyes and slurred speech. The officer additionally testified that the driver was staggering when he was walking to the patrol car and had to use the car to steady himself.
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