This week, we ask the DUI Expert, Officer William Pelarenos, what is the most valuable tool a DUI officer has?
Officer Pelarenos: The most valuable tool a DUI officer has is his training. It’s important for a Police Officer to be properly trained.
A DUI is a serious charge and it’s important that the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are properly administered in order to make an accurate determination that someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration specifically states how the Field Sobriety Tests are to be conducted by Police Officers. If the Officer properly conducts the tests, there are decision points assigned to each test and these determine if a subject should be arrested for DUI. One factor alone, such as the odor of alcohol or bloodshot and watery eyes, is not enough reason to arrest someone for DUI.
It is also an important issue as to where the Field Sobriety Tests are conducted. Police Officers should not have the subject facing the flashing lights of the squad car while testing him. Police Officers should have the subject walk on a relatively dry, even, hard and level surface.
I recently testified as a DUI Expert Witness in a jury trial and one of the issues was the fact that the driver was tested on a gravel driveway. The man had to do the Walk-And-Turn test while walking on an uneven, rocky, gravel driveway. How can this be fair to the person taking the test? How can proper decision points be assigned for errors when the man is walking on chunks of gravel?
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus was not properly conducted, either. I explained to the jury the discrepancies that I viewed on the arrest video as well as the reports. It’s important to remember that a DUI arrest is based on the totality of the evidence.
Read more about William Pelarenos on his website.