The unknown factor when it comes to a DUI arrest

I recently saw this idea on another blog that I follow. The unknown factor when it comes to DUI arrest. A DUI arrest is a very complicated matter. When investigating it there are literally a hundred things a DUI Attorney must look at. From what the client was doing prior to the stop to how the breath or blood test was administered. However there is one common factor that is often overlooked when it comes to a DUI arrest.

According to NHTSA the officer’s age and experience play a role in their alcohol related arrest decisions. In other words younger officers or those with relatively little experience tend to have a more positive attitude toward alcohol related traffic enforcement and make more arrests on that charge than their older more experienced counterparts. NHTSA reviewed arrests from Officers all over the country when making this statement and found that result was true regardless of the type of department in which the officers served or the specific type of duty to which they were assigned.

The interesting thing about this idea is it is pretty true. As a Seattle DUI Lawyer I can’t tell you how many DUI cases I represent where the client had an alcohol level below 0.08. In fact many of these cases are below 0.06. Whenever I conduct an investigation with the arresting officer or look more closely into their background they are always younger officers or officers with very little experience. So what does this tell me.

Well let’s say you get stopped for a DUI here in Seattle. The officer observes a slight odor of alcohol on your breath, you admit to have 1 beer almost 2 hours prior, and the officer doesn’t detect any slurred speech. Nevertheless they ask you to exit. You perform the field sobriety tests. The officer observes 4 of 6 on the HGN test, 1 of 8 on the walk and turn test, and 0 of 4 on the one leg stand test. When the officer asks you to take the portable breath test you decline the test and then you’re arrested.

Under this scenario I would say it is a judgement call on whether or not to arrest this driver. One one hand there is very little signs of impairment and the driver has passed on the field sobriety tests. On the other hand the driver to decline the portable breath test so the Officer doesnt know what their alcohol level is. I would say this is a perfect example of when an officers age and experience will come into play.

Im willing to bet that in this situation if the officer was younger and less experienced they would make this arrest. Simply because they don’t know any better or they are trying to show they can do good police work. On the other hand I bet if the officer was more experienced and had done more DUI investigations they might recognize the only thing this person has done is consume alcohol. It is not illegal remember to consume alcohol and drive, and there is very little signs of impairment. This person might be let go.

It’s an interesting idea to think about. Especially since DUI arrests are so subjective and really are at the discretion of the arresting officer.