A law enforcement officer must follow meticulous procedures when stopping and arresting a driver suspected of operating a vehicle while impaired (OWI).
If arrested for OWI, you may believe you have no defense against the charge. However, errors in such cases occur more often than you might think.
About probable cause
A law enforcement officer must base probable cause for an OWI arrest on objective facts. For example, an officer might observe a driver weaving, failing to signal, accelerating or slowing unexpectedly. The results of breath or field sobriety testing can also present probable cause.
Common police mistakes
Using scientifically validated methods, law enforcement officers must prove their suspicions that suspects were driving while under the influence of alcohol. If an officer makes a mistake during one part of the stop and arrest for OWI, that error may cast doubt over the investigation as a whole. Common mistakes include not having reasonable suspicion to charge a driver with OWI and failing to follow the procedures for either a breath test or field sobriety test.
Police report errors
If you find yourself charged with OWI, your defense attorney will carefully review the police report and the arresting officer’s deposition. Is the course of events according to the officer the same as yours? Are the date, time and location of the event accurate? Keep in mind that in writing their reports, police officers often use codes to describe weather, road conditions and other factors related to a traffic stop. Your attorney can help interpret these codes while building a defense strategy that will result in the best outcome possible for your OWI case.