So you’ve been arrested and charged with drunk driving… You don’t want to just plead guilty and take your punishment. Why? Because police officers regularly make mistakes in DUI cases. Here are the top 4 most common police mistakes in DUI investigations:
The Officer Makes a Traffic Stop without Probable Cause
A police officer doesn’t have to suspect that you are drinking and driving, but the officer must have some reasonable basis for pulling you over. Any violation of the law will do—speeding, failing to obey traffic signals, even an equipment failure, such as a broken tail light. If you can show that there was no reasonable basis to pull you over, any evidence obtained in the traffic stop may be excluded at trial.
The Officer Did Not Properly Conduct the Field Sobriety Test
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has strict guidelines for conducting field sobriety tests. Such tests must take mitigating factors into consideration, such as medical conditions, fatigue, weather conditions or defects in pavement or roadway. Often, police officers will subjectively identify even the slightest misstep as an indication of intoxication.
The Officer Makes an Arrest without Probable Cause
Before you can be arrested for drinking and driving, the officer must have probable cause to believe that your blood alcohol content is in excess of the legal limit. This may be based on your failure of the field sobriety test, on your general conduct or on a breathalyzer test administered at the scene. However, if there is no reasonable basis to believe that you are drinking and driving, any evidence subsequently obtained may be thrown out.
The Officer Improperly Administers the Blood Alcohol Test
Under California law, a police officer must continually observe you for a minimum of 15 minutes before administering a blood alcohol content test. Far too often, this is not done. As a result, tests can be inaccurate—for example, you may burp, causing a higher level of alcohol to be in your mouth or on your breath.