What Level of Proof Does Law Enforcement Need to Pull You From Your Car For Standardized Field Tests?
One of the major decision points in the OVI arrest process is the officer’s decision to remove a suspect from his or her car and conduct standardized field sobriety testing. The officer is trained to arrive at this “decision point” by conducting an interview and using specific “pre-exit interview techniques” which include asking for two things simultaneously; asking interrupting or distracting questions; and asking unusual questions. (NHTSA Student Manual VI-4). Additional techniques which an officer may employ include and Alphabet test (begin with E and end with P); a Countdown test (count out loud backward starting with 68 and ending with 53); and the Finger Count test (touch the tip of the thumb in turn to the tip of each finger while simultaneously counting). Absent evidence of intoxication adduced at this point in the investigation, the officer lacks reasonable and articulable suspicion to allow him to request you to step from the car. (NHTSA Student Manual, VI-4, VI-5, VI-6).
In State v. Evans (11th Dist 1998), 127 Ohio App.3d 56, the Court cites factors to determine if an officer has reasonable articulable suspicion of driving under the influence: (1) the time and day of the stop (Friday or Saturday night as opposed to, e.g., Tuesday morning); (2) the location of the stop (whether near establishments selling alcohol); (3) any indicia of erratic driving before the stop that may indicate a lack of coordination (speeding, weaving, unusual braking, etc.); (4) whether there is a cognizable report that the driver may be intoxicated; (5) the condition of the suspect’s eyes (bloodshot, glassy, glazed, etc.); (6) impairments of the suspect’s ability to speak (slurred speech, overly deliberate speech, etc.); (7) the odor of alcohol coming from the interior of the car, or, more significantly, on the suspect’s person or breath; (8) the intensity of that odor, as described by the officer (“very strong,” “strong,” “moderate,” “slight,” etc.); (9) the suspect’s demeanor (belligerent, uncooperative, etc.); (10) any actions by the suspect after the stop that might indicate a lack of coordination (dropping keys, falling over, fumbling for a wallet, etc.); and (11) the suspect’s admission of alcohol consumption, the number of drinks had, and the amount of time in which they were consumed, if given. Citing five factors present in this case, the Court concluded the officer did have reasonable and articulable suspicion of driving under the influence.
An Ohio OVI lawyer should be prepared to challenge the officer’s determination of reasonable and articulable suspicion. Make sure the Ohio OVI lawyer you choose has the most recent copy of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Student Manual. Charles M. Rowland has all such manuals and has received the same level of training in the standardized field sobriety tests as law enforcement. He has furthered his education by being Ohio’s only Forensic Sobriety Assessment certified attorney which goes beyond the NHTSA manual to investigate the science (pseudo-science) of the tests. If you need an attorney who has worked hard to achieve the highest level of training possible, contact Charles M. Rowland II today at 937-318-1DUI (318-1384), 1-888-ROWLAND or www.DaytonDUI.com.
- Officer lacked reasonable articulable suspicion (ohiocriminalappealslawyer.com)
- DUI Case Law Update: State v. Houck (daytondui.com)
- Ohio Court Blasts Police Embellishment of Traffic Stop Testimony (thenewspaper.com)
- Do You Have to Tell Police Your Name? (crimedime.com)
- Are the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Fair to Fatter People? (daytondui.com)
- Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: The One Leg Stand Test (daytondui.com)
- A Fading Constitution (duiblog.com)