Police officers must follow certain rules and procedures while conducting a DUI investigation. These protocols are created to protect the rights of suspects, ensure that evidence is legally collected, and provide transparency.
However, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to break these protocols, typically by mistake. If an officer commits an error or fails to follow the proper procedures of a DUI investigation, any evidence collected could be thrown out of court. Without important evidence to convict a defendant, the entire case could be dismissed.
Here are the most common mistakes police officers make in a DUI case:
- Failure to establish reasonable suspicion – To make a lawful traffic stop, law enforcement must have a valid reason—known as “reasonable suspicion”—to pull you over. The most common example of reasonable suspicion is the driver commits a traffic violation (e.g. speeding, reckless driving, broken taillight, etc.). If an officer fails to establish reasonable suspicion, all evidence obtained during the stop is inadmissible.
- Failure to establish probable cause – To make a lawful arrest, the police must have probable cause for arrest. In other words, law enforcement has enough evidence of a DUI that any reasonable individual would believe you’re drunk driving. Common forms of evidence include field sobriety test results, breath test results, and even mere observations such as the smell of alcohol coming from the breath, slurred speech, or delayed reactions. If there is no probable cause, then the case is often dismissed.
- Failure to properly administer a field sobriety test – The NHTSA created rules and procedures for officers to follow before administering a field sobriety test, such as an explanation of each test, using level ground to perform a test, and considering a suspect’s medical history or injuries. If the police incorrectly administer these tests, then the results cannot be used in court.
- Failure to properly administer breath test – Not only must police officers calibrate the breath test device, they must also observe suspects for 15 minutes to ensure they do not burp, vomit, or otherwise consume anything prior to the test. If an officer fails to follow all the rules, then the test results are inadmissible in court.
Arrested for a DUI in Pocatello, ID? Contact May, Rammell & Wells today and request a consultation today.