If you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving and think your case is a lost cause, think again. The police need to adhere to a stringent series of guidelines when using field sobriety tests as well as completing the arrest process.
First of all, the police must inform you of your rights before taking a breath sample to determine if you’re impaired or under the influence. You have the right to decline to take any field sobriety tests. Some choose to invoke this right because the tests can be difficult to perform in ideal circumstances— much less in situations where variables like inclement weather or when the individual being tested is tired.
Additionally, no matter what your breath alcohol level is according to the preliminary breath test, you are required to take a second breath test at the police station after your arrest. Police must also collect the sample in a certain timeframe. You are also allowed to consult with an attorney before taking any breath tests or answering any questions after arrest and you should do so. You should also request an independent medical test at a hospital.
Failure to administer field sobriety tests in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines could result in an acquittal. Breathalyzers are prone to error as well, whether it is human or mechanical and certain medications and health conditions can result in false positives on breathalyzer tests. While breathalyzers are often cited as foolproof indicators of intoxication, this is not necessarily the case.
A police officer also needs a reason to investigate a drunk driving charge in the first place. For example, if an officer pulled you over for a non-functioning tail light, he or she needs a valid reason to administer field sobriety or breath testing. Some potential reasons could include smelling the odor of alcohol and/or visual evidence of impairment such as bloodshot eyes, or failing a test of coordination.
By no means are these the only types of mistakes that law enforcement officers can make when it comes to DUI charges in Maryland. There are a variety of mistakes that can occur that could invalidate an arrest and a qualified DUI attorney understands the importance of asking the right questions in your particular case.
Andrew D. Alpert is widely recognized as one of the leading DUI defense attorneys in Maryland. He is a former prosecutor and litigator who successfully defended hundreds of individuals in DUI and vehicular manslaughter cases throughout the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Get your free case evaluation now by dialing (301) 708-2677 or click here to fill out a confidential online case evaluation form.
Police Mistakes in Maryland DUI/DWI Cases
Though most officers of the law strive to be fair, many fail to adhere correctly to proper procedure. One common mistake that officers make is stopping motorists without just cause. The threshold of “reasonable suspicion” that must be met can be debated. In cases where the officer’s judgment can be questioned effectively at trial, it is possible the trial can be won.
Another problem is failing to properly test for sobriety. There are many rules officers must follow to administer blood tests, breathalyzer tests, and other tests for sobriety. If just one of these rules or procedures is violated, even technically, the test can be thrown out. Common problems include using broken machinery, taking inaccurate measurements, and biasing the results.
Officer bias can be a problem, too. When preconceptions about a defendant lead to the mismanagement of a DUI situation, the outcome of the case may be drastically altered. In some cases, biased officers can be reprimanded for their behavior.
Officers can also make “all too human” errors and omissions in arrest reports. Although unintentional, these mistakes can nevertheless break down the state’s case against a drunk driver.
Finally, some officers fail to prepare effectively for trial or settlement. If an arresting officer, for instance, fails to show up at a court appearance, the defendant may be able to get the charges dismissed.