A very common observation by law enforcement in an impaired driving investigation is the presence of “slurred speech.” Experience trial counsel will look to the totality of evidence to combat the damning accusation of slurred speech.
Many traffic stops are now captured on video tape. As the quality of the recordings has improved we are often able to hear exactly what the officer is hearing. Reasonable people can disagree as to whether or not the speech on a video is “slurred” and whether or not it was fair for the officer to describe the speech as slurred. Another, more subtle method is to cross-examine the officer on his or her ability to obtain evidence based on the suspect’s answers. It is logical to conclude that the suspect’s speech was not so slurred that the officer was not able to gather evidence. Another point that can be made is that the officer notes impaired speech at the one and only location the officer is trained to note it in his or her training. And at no other time does the speech appear in the officer’s report. This evidence of absence is enhanced if the jury is given a narrative that the officer was rushing to confirm an erroneous conclusion that the suspect was impaired.
It is also fair to point out that there are other causes of slurred speech besides intoxication. The medical term for slurred speech is ‘dysarthria’ and, like other clues of impairment, can be attributable to multiple causes. Being pulled over by law enforcement is a very stressful situation. According to the medical site Health Guidance, slurred speech can be caused or enhanced by anxiety.
If you have ever been in a highly stressful situation then you might have noticed it becoming increasingly difficult to get your words out (which doesn’t help). This is a result of stress hormones and can be particularly bad in cases of anxiety disorder.
Another argument that can be used to combat the accusation of slurred speech is that the officer has no “baseline” observation upon which to base an accusation. This is likely the first, and only, opportunity that the officer has to speak with the suspect. As one client testified in court, “He just don’t know that’s how I talk.” People who are familiar with the suspects speech pattern may be called to testify. They can refute the accusation by offering their opinion on whether or not the suspect’s speech was impaired. The DaytonDUI app which is available (for free) on Android has a function that will allow an accused driver to make a contemporaneous recording. This recording will serve as a record of the defendant’s voice and can be used in court to fight the charge of DUI.
DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in Fairborn, Dayton, Springfield, Kettering, Vandalia, Xenia, Miamisburg, Huber Heights, Beavercreek, Centerville, Springboro, Franklin and throughout Ohio. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671. For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitterupdates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook,www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube. You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.