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Common Mistakes Police Make During DUI Stops

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, police officers face a difficult task. With an increasing number of DUI arrests occurring over the years, it is no surprise that police officers are prone to making mistakes during these types of stops. According to recent statistics, 1.4 million DUI arrests are made annually in the United States.

In addition, alcohol consumption by drivers involved in fatal crashes is reported to be as high as 40%. With such a large number of DUI arrests, it becomes necessary to understand the common mistakes police officers make to protect yourself from wrongful arrests. A wrongful arrest that results in a DUI charge can greatly help your defense.

Our experienced DUI attorneys can review the details surrounding your case and let you know the chances of being able to plea your charge down to something negligible or get it completely dismissed. Call Dohman Law today at (847) 616-9993 to schedule a free consultation.

How Illinois Law Defines DUI

DUI, also known as driving under the influence, is a criminal charge for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%.

A DUI arrest occurs when a driver’s BAC is above the legal limit, and he is taken into custody by a police officer. A DUI can result in license suspension, jail time, and hefty fines.

Common Mistakes Police Officers Make During DUI Stops

Certainly, law enforcement officers have an important role when it comes to enforcing DUI laws. However, they are not infallible and can make mistakes that could lead to wrongful arrests. The following are some of the most common police mistakes when conducting DUI stops:

Lack of Reasonable Suspicion

As a common law enforcement tactic, officers can pull you over if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. Reasonable suspicion refers to the set of facts and circumstances that would lead a police officer to believe that criminal activity is taking place. It must be more than just an officer's feeling that something is wrong. It must have some basis in facts.

a police officer with a motorcycle pulling over a driver for suspected dui

So, officers must prove that the stop is based on more than just a hunch. An officer cannot legally pull you over without compelling evidence, such as erratic driving or some other form of suspicious activity. If an officer pulls you over without reasonable suspicion, any proof or charges from the stop may be deemed invalid and can lead to a wrongful arrest.

Improperly Administering Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

For a DUI arrest to be valid, the arresting officer must have sufficient evidence to prove that the driver is in fact intoxicated. One of the most common methods officers utilize is using Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). These tests are designed to measure a driver’s level of impairment and can be used as evidence in court.

For the SFST results to be valid, they must be administered appropriately. Officers must adhere to the strict guidelines set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If an officer fails to do so, the test results may not be valid and can lead to a wrongful arrest.

Failure to Follow the Appropriate Procedure at the Police Station

Once a driver has been arrested for DUI, they are taken to the police station for further evaluation. At this point, officers must adhere to the appropriate procedure. This includes informing the arrested driver of their rights, allowing them access to a phone, properly administering the breath and/or blood test, and providing an experienced defense attorney if requested. If any of these steps are skipped, it can lead to a wrongful arrest.

False Positive Breath Tests

Breath tests are one of the most common methods to determine a driver’s BAC level. While these tests can be highly accurate, certain factors affect breathalyzer results.

Some of these factors include improper calibration or malfunctioning equipment and the consumption of certain foods or medicines. If a breath test result is found to be inaccurate due to any of these factors, it can lead to a wrongful arrest.

Inaccurate Blood Alcohol Concentration Tests

Another standard method for determining a driver’s BAC is through the use of a blood test. These tests can be accurate, but certain factors can lead to inaccurate results.

Factors such as improper collection or handling of the blood sample or incorrect laboratory analysis can result in a false positive. A false positive can lead to a wrongful arrest and the driver being charged with a DUI when they are in fact innocent.

Inadequate Training or Experience of Law Enforcement Officials

For law enforcement officials to properly detect and arrest drunk drivers, they must have the proper training and experience. If an officer is not adequately trained or experienced with DUI arrests, it can lead to mistakes being made.

a police car stopped on the side of a road

This may include conducting an improper traffic stop, failing to administer SFSTs correctly, or not collecting the proper evidence. These can lead to a wrongful arrest and the driver being wrongfully charged with a DUI.

Incorrectly Interpreting Traffic Violations

Sometimes, a driver may be pulled over for a traffic violation, such as speeding or running a stop sign. While these are legitimate reasons to be pulled over, they do not necessarily mean that the driver is intoxicated. However, if an officer fails to recognize this and incorrectly assumes that the driver is impaired, it can lead to a wrongful arrest.

For Questions About Your DUI Stop, Call Dohman Law Today!

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can review the evidence and determine if any of the common mistakes law enforcement officers make during DUI stops have occurred.

At Dohman Law, we understand how stressful these situations can be and are here to help. Our legal team provides an initial consultation so that we can better understand your case and provide the best possible defense.

If you have any questions about DUI arrests or need more information, please do not hesitate to contact our office today. We are here to answer any and all questions you may have. Let our experienced attorney can help protect your rights!

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