Many times people arrested for drunk driving make the mistake of not fighting back. A recent 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes Michigan) driving under the influence case shows just how important it is to challenge police officer conduct.
In Green v. Throckmorton, a woman – Catrena Green – was pulled over by a state trooper for failing to dim her high beams in the face of oncoming traffic. During the ensuing traffic stop, Green was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officer arrested her based on her responses to a series of field sobriety tests.
Unfortunately field sobriety tests are very subjective and whether you pass or fail is often based on an individual police officer’s opinion. This means every DUI arrest is the decision of the police officers at the scene. The results of the field sobriety tests may vary widely, and every test is open to scrutiny. If you have been pulled over and arrested for a Michigan DUI or OUI it’s important to seek the advice of an aggressive Michigan drunk driving defense attorney right away.
In fact, while failing a standard field sobriety test comes as a shock to many drivers – law enforcement “fails” drivers far too frequently. Few Michigan drivers understand how the tests are conducted and evaluated. Unfortunately, many police officers are likewise uninformed and improperly trained.
According to the Federal Department of Transportation, only about 65 percent of standard field sobriety tests are accurate when it comes to predicting actual driving impairment. That means that over a third of the drivers arrested for DUI based on a field sobriety test may have been wrongly accused.
In Green, once the urine test was administered and the results came back clean, all charges were dropped. Green then filed a lawsuit alleging that the state trooper violated her 4th amendment rights under the constitution by conducting field sobriety tests without having the necessary reasonable suspicion that she was impaired and that she was arrested without probable cause.
The United States constitution protects individuals at every step of the criminal law process. A common mistake police officers make is stopping people without sufficient reason and detaining them for longer than necessary without a reasonable suspicion.
Here, the appellate court determined that it was possible for the jury to find that the state trooper violated Green’s constitutional rights because her conduct did not create a reasonable suspicion that she was driving under the influence, that she acted rationally throughout the stop and that her minor traffic violation was not indicative of driving while impaired.
If you were the victim of an illegal stop, the results of any field sobriety tests do not matter. If an skilled Michigan DUI defense attorney is able to prove that the initial traffic stop was unlawful, any subsequent evidence of impairment, up to and including breathalyzer and blood test results, can be excluded.
For more information or if you have been stopped for Michigan drunk driving, contact the top Michigan drunk driving defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates for an immediate consultation.