Riffel &
  Bowlin, P.A.

   Attorneys At Law
DWI DEFENSE 
Welcome to our web page. This web page is devoted to what you need to know in order to defend against an alcohol related charge. While this might come up in various situations, such as civil law suits where a party is alleged to have been drinking, criminal cases alleging manslaughter or even murder, the usual situation is that you have been charged with violating one or another of the driving while intoxicated laws.
 
While Kirby Riffel and Linda Bowlin are both trained, experienced DWI lawyers, Linda has chosen to limit her practice to Domestic Relations, Probate, Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice areas and no longer has the time to take DWI cases. On the other hand, Mr. Riffel practices exclusively DWI law and has handled thousands of these cases and he is asked to practice all over Arkansas.
 
Mr. Riffel is a founding member of the National College for DUI Defense; he has twice (only two polls) been voted one of the best DWI lawyers in Arkansas in the Arkansas Times Poll. He is particularly proud to be one of the few lawyers recognized by his statewide peers who does not live in a metropolitan area. Mr. Riffel has been given the Champions Award by the Arkansas Criminal Defense Association and is licensed to practice in every court in Arkansas and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Riffel has been a speaker at many continuing education seminars for other lawyers both in Arkansas and other states. He has spoken to judges, law students, and practicing lawyers in Ukraine.
 
In about 1991 someone told him that “You can’t win a DWI case” and he set out to see if this was true and became fascinated with the fact that in these cases often involve faulty science, minimally trained officers, ambiguous testimony and ambiguous laws. Unfortunately they also involve unusual prejudice against DWI defendants as a result of high dollar ad campaigns by organizations like the State Police and MADD. Mr. Riffel’s experience is that large numbers of innocent people are mischaracterized as drunks merely because they are distracted drivers or fail “field sobriety tests” which almost no one, save the young and the athletic, can do and which have nothing to do with driving; or who fail a breath machine test which is supposed to be perfect, but is constantly being replaced by new models which are “improvements” over the old and are governed by archaic regulations.

For instance the National Safety Council and other organizations have regularly said since at least the 1980s that duplicate tests (at least) should be made for quality control purposes to help insure minimum accuracy. Duplicate tests were mandated in Arkansas just this year—twenty plus years to late for many who pled guilty thinking that these machines were governed by minimum safeguards of accuracy. Now no breath results can be reported unless duplicate tests are done. What about the tens of thousands of Arkansans who have been convicted over the last 20 years and more without duplicate tests? Anybody care about these people? No. Standardized Field sobriety tests were “proven” to discriminate between people who would test over or under .10% on some variety of breath machine.
 
Then the law changed and they now magically discriminate between people who are over or under .08. This is not science, this is not proof, it is politics. You know, it wouldn’t be so important if the penalties were reasonable, but it is not what the court decrees that is so unreasonable. It is the simple fact that the DWI is on your record forever (for insurance purposes it may only count against you for three years; for increasing penalties for subsequent offenses in Arkansas is five years) and it can cost you your job; your right to travel to certain countries, like Canada, may restrict job opportunities etc. The more responsible you are the worse the punishment in these terms is likely to be. If a worker loses his job and cannot find other employment, which is often the case, the whole family is devastated.
 
Many DWI defendants are innocent. However, after the fact, it is not possible to prove innocence. Thankfully, we have a legal system that understands that one should not be required to prove anything, that he should be acquitted unless the proof against him is overwhelming and excludes all possibility of innocence. The job of a defense lawyer is much like that of a house inspector. The house may have a new paint job, new carpets and the well spoken, nice looking salesman (read prosecutor and police officer) may make a good sales pitch, but the good home inspector will look at the insulation, the wiring, the plumbing. He will check for termites and disputed boundary lines. After you hear his report, you may not be so willing to buy this bright and shinny house that the real estate salesman wants to sell you. It is the same with the prosecutor (who is selling the case) and the defense lawyer who will show you the things about the case that the salesman will not tell you.
 
Mr. Riffel, in his career, has tried civil cases both for the plaintiff and the defendant, he has tried murder, rape and drug cases, but none are as difficult to achieve a fair result as a DWI case because all the political pressure groups are scaring the public (read influencing jurors) half to death with emotional appeals which have the effect of creating an atmosphere where it is difficult for a defendant to get a fair trial. No type of cases require trained and experienced defense counsel more than DWI cases do.