How Does a DUI Arrest Originate?
Interviewer: Is there a common backstory you hear from people about why they think they got arrested and what they were doing before they were arrested?
Many DUI Arrests Originate as a Stop for a Traffic Violation
Jerald Novak: Most people don’t believe that they were committing the traffic violation that the police officer stopped them for. They will indicate to me that they weren’t speeding or they weren’t weaving within their lane or they hadn’t run through the red light.
I believe that to be true in a lot of cases, and that’s why careful discovery is so important. We need to know that what the police officer claims is the reason for the stop is what was in the written police report. Then we need to verify that with the dash cam video to see if that in fact was true. Just because the police officer says it and just because he writes it, and even if it’s on the video doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate because there are different perspectives.
Was the Reason for the Initial Police Stop Valid?
Think about the fact that two people who are standing next to each other might observe the same occurrence. But because they are a couple of feet apart, they have slightly different angles of view. Just because the police officer says you went through the red light, depending upon where he or she was when they observed you, from their perspective it may have looked like you went through a red light.
But from another perspective it may not look like you went through the red light. That becomes very important.
We will even go through the trouble of getting on Google Earth to check out the area in which a client was stopped. Oftentimes the police officer will say they stopped our client for going 45 in a 35 zone. But you see that in fact, the posted speed signs were 45. Or we’ll get in the car and drive out to the spot and take a personal inspection of the area to see.
Problems with the Field Sobriety Tests
Another thing police officers claim all the time is after they stop the vehicle and get the driver out and they have the driver perform standardized field sobriety tests on flat level ground.
Let me tell you something. Streets are not designed to be flat and level. All streets are built on a slight angle. This is because if it were to rain, the engineers want that rain to run off the road. They are kind of convex in shape.
They are higher at the center and they angle off on the sides, so the question then is, did this angle affect the performance of the standardized field sobriety test? That again comes back down to perspective. Perspective can win cases.