Wednesday, November 16, 2011

News article on DUI field sobriety tests

I recently came across this article discussing whether or not a person should do the field sobriety tests if they are being investigated for a DUI.  The news article is from Atlanta, but the gist of the article applies the same as here in Washington State.

Dr. Spurgoen Cole a retired physician is quoted in the article as saying, "[the field sobriety test] is designed to fail.  Its designed to fail.  There are no norms, there is no average score.  We have no idea what an average person can do on the one leg with the heel to toe."  And lastly he recommends that nobody takes them.

Hopefully most people know by know that if you're being investigated for a DUI, its probably best to not do the field sobriety tests (the tests in the field, always ask to speak with an attorney prior to the breath test at the station).  Although they may seem easy, when you take into account the circumstances, the situation, the environment, the lack of any real scoring system, and the fact your liberty is at stake.  These are not ideal test conditions, and the smallest mistake can mean the difference between jail and going home.  Not to mention my personal opinion is that these tests are nothing but junk science and I do believe they are designed for a person to fail.  As as attorney I feel its always best to limit the amount of evidence law enforcement can gather against you.  You have the right to remain silent and the right to be free from self incrimination.  This includes the right to not answer questions, but also the right to decline these field sobriety tests.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, and you agreed to take the tests.  All is not lost.  There are still plenty of ways to challenge the admissibility of these tests, albeit it makes the DUI case more difficult.  Feel free to call my office for a free 60 minute consultation if you have been recently arrested for a DUI.

Leyba Defense PLLC | DUI Defense

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New DUI related case on pretextual stops

So whats a pretextual stop?  To put it simply its when a police officer stops a vehicle for some kind of minor infraction with the sole purpose of the stop not being the actual infraction committed, but to investigate possible criminal activity.  You see lots of stops like this in DUI cases, especially here in Seattle, Washington, where we have lots of State patrol troopers traveling up and down I5 at night looking for people to pull over and investigate for DUI.

Recently the Court of Appeals Division III in Washington ruled on a case involving a pretextual stop.  In this case a patrol officer followed Gilbert Chacon Arreola's blue Chevy for over a half mile because it fit the description of a car reportedly driven by a drunk driver.  While watching for signs of impaired driving, the officer noticed an illegally modified muffler, and decided to initiate a stop based on that and nothing more.  In other words the sole basis of the stop being to investigate for a possible DUI.

The Court of Appeals held this was an unconstitutional stop because the Officer's primary reason for the stop was not to cite the alleged infraction for a modified muffler, but because the officer admitted his primary purpose was to investigate for DUI.  And despite following the vehicle for approximately 45 seconds, no observations indicative of impairment was observed, and therefore this stop was without authority of law.

I meet with many people who tell me the same thing.  They were driving home on I5 or I90 or 520 and they got pulled over for not signaling, for following a car too closely, or some other minor infraction.  When they get contacted by the officer, the officer doesn't talk to them about the reason for the stop and explain why they are being pulled over, but immediately asks if they have been drinking and if they have then they begin a DUI investigation.  In my opinion this is unlawful and these kinds of unlawful seizures should be challenged.

If you have recently been contacted by law enforcement and you were arrested after allegedly committing a minor traffic infraction contact my officer immediately to ensure your constitutional rights are protected.

Leyba Defense PLLC | Seattle DUI Defense