You were pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of DUI. You “passed” the Breathalyzer test, registering lower than .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). However, the officer arrested you anyway. How is that possible?
Officers are trained to identify a multitude of signs of being under the influence. Many are behaviors that people don’t even realize they’re exhibiting. For example, field sobriety tests (FST) include something called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, where you follow a pen light or officer’s finger. This detects jerking movements of the eye that are one sign of possible intoxication. You can’t control those.
Officers also collect a good deal of evidence just by talking with someone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified a number of “post-stop clues” that someone is under the influence. These include:
- Fumbling with license and registration
- Difficulty getting out of the vehicle
- Leaning on something and/or difficulty balancing
- Repeating things or asking the officer to repeat questions
- Changing answers
- Slurring words
- Smelling like alcohol
Of course, the driving behaviors that got you stopped in the first place are also evidence. Certain behaviors are often indicative of drunk driving and can cause enough suspicion by officers that someone is intoxicated to pull him or her over. These include:
- Weaving outside the lane
- Driving without headlights after dark
- Excessively wide turns
- Slow response to traffic light changes
- Unnecessarily slow speed or changes in speed for no reason
Keep in mind that the stop may be videotaped, so anything you say and do is preserved as evidence that may be used against you. Even if there’s no tape, officers can testify about your behavior in court.
Unfortunately, many people who are stopped on suspicion of DUI willingly provide self-incriminating evidence. They talk too much. They may insist that they’ve “only had a few” drinks. Don’t say any more than necessary. Don’t be rude or combative, but don’t volunteer information. You have the right to refuse to answer questions until you’ve had the chance to talk to a lawyer.
The more evidence that’s accumulated before and during the traffic stop and arrest, the more challenging it will be to fight. However, experienced Maryland attorneys can work to poke holes in this evidence or get it thrown out completely. That’s why you shouldn’t try to fight DUI charges alone.