A law student was pulled over in the St. Louis area, because she was missing a headlight. When the officer walks up to her car, he claims to smell a moderate odor of alcohol and notices that her eyes are bloodshot and watery. The driver admits to consuming three drinks throughout the evening. The officer asks her to step out of her car and walk to a nearby area for field sobriety testing. According to the officer, she sways noticeably while walking and then proceeds to fail all three standardized field sobriety tests. The officer arrests the driver, takes her to the station where she blows a .112.
How’d we win this case?
At trial, the officer admits that the driver’s speech was normal, and her balance was generally good. Of course, missing a headlight is hardly indicative of a drunk driver. Most people only realize they are missing a headlight when they get pulled over. In fact, the officer admits that he doesn’t observe any evidence of drunk driving. Worse yet, the officer admits that he incorrectly administers each of the standardized field sobriety tests, and he acknowledges that the tests’ results are, therefore, worthless. Despite receiving countless hours of training, the officer had no idea how to properly administer any of the field sobriety tests. At the end of the trial, the judge ruled that the officer lacked probable cause to make an arrest. The result? The breath test result was not relevant, and the driver kept her license.
The moral of the story?
A skilled defense attorney can successfully challenge the evidence, even in tough cases. Without cross-examining the police officer, this case could not have been won. Over time, many police officers become complacent and conduct subpar investigations. When they do, we catch them!