Defense Attorney: John Scott Webb, Esq.
Offense: Operating Under the Influence (OUI, DUI, DWI)
Maximum Sentence: 364 days in jail
Synopsis: Client was drinking at a local Tavern, and was followed into the Tavern parking lot by the local police department. He stayed for a couple of hours, drinking and shooting pool. Upon leaving the tavern, he noted a police cruiser following behind him. It followed him for several miles. At the motion to suppress hearing, the police officer testified that the client maintained the speed limit exactly the entire time he was being followed. He noted when he took a right hand turn from the main highway onto a side road, he took a “wide turn” but, once again, maintained the exact speed limit. Client was nervous about having a car follow him so closely, so he turned down a dirt road in an attempt to evade the vehicle following him. Unfortunately for client, at the end of the road were two residences, both which were occupied by members of law enforcement. At the motion to suppress hearing, the officer testified he knew both law enforcement officers that lived at those residences and assumed that Client was not visiting them at one o’clock in the morning. The officer testified that he went up to the side of the car and asked for license and registration, smelled intoxicants emanating from the vehicle. He then started questioning client about computer parts in his back seat explaining that there had been several computer thefts in the area in the past few weeks. When a second officer arrived as back up, field sobriety tests were given without any further questioning or observations. The client allegedly failed the field sobriety tests, was taken down to the station for a breath test and ultimately blew a .20 BAC.
Resolution: Following a full hearing on the motion to suppress, the police officer was questioned by the assistant district attorney, cross examined by defense counsel and some follow up questions by the sitting Judge. Following closing arguments by both the State and the defendant, the motion to suppress was GRANTED, as the Judge found that the officer lacked articulable suspicion to ask the client to perform field sobriety tests based on the lack of clues of intoxication with respect to his driving and the lack of clues of intoxication during police contact prior to the beginning of standardized field sobriety tests. It should also be noted that the officer stated that one of the bigger clues he keyed in on to justify the stop was the fact that the client followed the speed limit. It was the officer’s testimony that “no one follows the speed limit” in that part of the town. The case was subsequently dismissed.