Charged With OWI? Waysroadside Sobriety Tests Can Be Wrong
Being wrongfully accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) is traumatic. But what makes this particular charge even harder for many is that it can seem impossible to prove otherwise.
However, law enforcement's observations and roadside tests are not infallible. A number of often unrecognized factors can make an officer's assumptions or conclusions wrong. Here are a few that can help you defend yourself.
1. Acid Reflux Can Bring Up Alcohol
Breathalyzer tests are designed to test for alcohol deep in the lungs. However, residual alcohol in your mouth can throw off the test. One way this can happen? Acid reflux, burping, and coughing. If you have any of these problems, your test may not be accurate.
2. Red Eyes and Flushing are Common
Some of the symptoms most often associated with being intoxicated are red eyes, flushed faces, slurring, and unsteadiness.
However, symptoms like red eyes and flushing can also happen if you're cold, have allergies, are suffering from a virus, or have worked or played too hard. Unfortunately, officers are unlikely to investigate other possible causes.
3. Not Everyone Is Coordinated
Field sobriety tests involve having the suspected drunk driver perform a few standardized movements to see how well they are in control of themselves. But these tests are not performed in ideal conditions or in a good frame of mind.
You're on the side of the road and stressed out. You may not be well-coordinated, nervous, or uncomfortable. So, failure may not have anything to do with the beer you had hours ago.
4. You May Have Been Driving Well
People can easily assume that a driver who drifts in their lane, misses signage, or drives either too slow or too fast is intoxicated. In reality, though, many factors — ranging from reaching for your phone to trying to quiet backseat shenanigans — can cause you to make driving errors.
While law enforcement will likely focus on the one or two errors you made, your defense may focus on all the things you did correctly before and after the traffic stop.
5. Officers Have to Observe You
While breathalyzer tests in the movies happen very quickly, the real process actually takes quite a while.
In many areas, the officer must observe the driver for a specified period of time beforehand in order to prevent anything from contaminating the results. But most officers either don't do this or use the time to complete paperwork or set up the device. This can invalidate its results in court.
Where to Start
Should your OWI defense include any of these less common factors? Find out by meeting with a criminal law defense law office such as Cohen Law Offices, LLC in your state today.