According to a recent news article from NBC 4 Washington, an officer of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was just arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The officer was arrested after his supervising officer allegedly noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person during an interaction with this officer that arose as a result of a civilian complaint.
The defendant has been a sworn MPD officer for four years prior to his drunk driving arrest in Washington, DC. When his supervisor smelled the odor of alcohol, he asked the officer to exit his vehicle and subjected him to a series of standardized field sobriety tests (SFTSs). According to a spokesperson for the MPD, this officer allegedly failed the SFSTs, and that, along with additional probable cause, led them to arrest the officer on a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. It is important to understand that this officer has merely been accused of a crime and, like all of us, enjoys the presumption of innocence, unless and until he is found guilty in court after the government proved every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
One of the questions that is commonly asked of our Washington, DC DUI defense attorneys is whether or not you have to take the standardized field sobriety tests. Regardless of what the officer tells you, they cannot make you take the standardized field sobriety tests. While it is true that they can tell the judge at trial, should your case go to trial, that you refused to take the tests, the advantage for you is that they will not be able to say you took the tests and failed them all. This is often worse than saying you did not agree to take the tests.
One of the problems that arises is that most people think they will pass the standardized field sobriety tests, but the reality is they probably won’t. The reason they will likely fail the sobriety tests in DC is not because you were too drunk to drive, but because the officer is often looking to make an arrest for DUI, and it is the officer that is the one who gets to score the test. When a driver takes the test, he or she has no idea as to how the officer is scoring this test, and the officer often has a bias in favor of getting a conviction.
However, this is not to say you will be convicted simply because you took the SFTSs and the officer made a determination you were intoxicated. The reason for this is because, if you have a lawyer who is experienced with the SFTSs and has even taken the training as approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA ) or the National Association of Chiefs of Police, your attorney may be able to show the court the officer did not administer the test correctly, and if he or she did not administer it correctly, he or she did not score the test properly.
If you or a loved one find yourselves under investigation or facing a criminal charge, contact Scrofano Law PC for a full case evaluation.
DC Police Officer Charged With DUI While on Duty, October 24, 2016, NBC 4 Washingto
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DC DUI Lawyer on the Right to Remain Silent, September 15, 2016, No Papered Blog