Police officers, like any human being, can make mistakes. However, an officer’s mistake can result in an unfair conviction. To arrest someone for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), police officers must have a good reason to do so, as well as follow specific arrest procedures. If it turns out that a police officer made a mistake, the court can remove a driver’s OWI charges.
Unreasonable stops and arrests
A police officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop you. This means that they can only stop a driver if the driver gives them a good reason to do so, like excessive weaving, going the wrong way or running a red light. If you obey traffic laws and don’t do anything out of the ordinary, they shouldn’t stop you. They also need proof that you were driving under the influence to arrest you.
Improper administration of field sobriety tests
All police officers must take a training program developed by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to administrate field sobriety tests properly. After a stop, the police will verify if you are intoxicated by asking you to perform some tasks. The most common tests are:
- Walk and turn: the subject takes nine heel-to-toe steps, turns and then takes the steps back while counting and looking at their feet.
- One leg stand: the subject must raise one foot six inches off the ground and count out loud.
These tests have specific and standardized instructions that the police officer must follow. They must explain the tasks to the driver in a simple and efficient way. If the officer misdescribes the task, the driver could make a mistake that would make them appear intoxicated.
Improper administration of chemical tests
You may have to take a chemical test if the police officer asks for it. The chemical test will allow the officer to verify if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the state’s limit, which is 0.08. When this happens, the driver needs to provide samples of their breath, blood or urine. The officer must follow specific rules to administer these tests. The breath test, for example, needs to be administered at least two times to calibrate the breath-testing instrument. Also, you need a warrant for a blood test. If the officer makes a mistake, the results could be false, and they wouldn’t be admissible against the driver. You can also refuse these tests, but that would mean losing your driving privileges.
Fighting against an OWI charge
The court cannot convict you if you prove that the police officer did not meet the statutory requirements during the traffic stop and arrest. An experienced lawyer could help you build your defense by analyzing all the evidence from your case. If you were a victim of a mistake, you have the right to fight back.