This is EXACTLY the type of crappy DUI ARREST behavior that concerns me the most as a DUI lawyer in Maryland. As I have written numerous times before, the courts, judges and juries place waaaaay too much weight on the insidious accusations that some police officers write in their arrest statement of charges. The courts (too many of them) accept these accusations as gospel which is ridiculous and unfortunate because cops in many jurisdictions learn what they need to say in their statements to gain a conviction and just make up facts as they go along to get what they seek.
I was stopped one night leaving my law office on my way home and sadly it was past midnight which means cops can make up any story they want to stop you. This cop indicated that I was driving “all over the road” which was almost comical, since my Audi never left my lane of travel. When the cop failed to smell alcohol on my breath and learned I was a DUI lawyer, he quickly lost interest in me and left the scene to prepare his snare for his next victim which would surely be easier prey.
Anyway, I digress from the point. The point is the courts, judges and juries need to conduct more of an independent intellectual analysis of the alleged facts of a given case to determine if the officer is being accurate, intentionally or unintentionally (like this lying cop that was FIRED and now has a class action lawsuit filed against her and her former department). There are only a number of judges that I can name that carefully examine the facts of a given case to see if the case intellectually stands up to the sniff test and then have the fortitude to dismiss a case that does not. It is these judges that I give the highest praise possible for during their job intellectually and honestly which is not always easy.
These roadside gymnastics (FSTs) are NOT the holy grail! They do not hold the answer as to whether a driver is impaired because they are ridiculous exercises which adult humans are not used to doing and are too subjective. Why not ask a driver to do something normal that they may actually be capable of doing as opposed to asking them to stand on one leg while counting, looking down at their foot and putting their finger in their nose!
Along these lines, a few weeks ago I was driving home from the office and it was about 25 degrees outside and the wind was blowing so hard, siding was coming off houses. It was difficult to keep my car in the lane it was blowing so hard. At about 10pm in the evening, deputy DUI officer had some poor sole outside her car attempting roadside gym exercises in these conditions. I chuckled to myself as I drove by but my heart went out to that poor person. The tests should not be done in these conditions. A few weeks later I got a call from that person who is now my client and we will go to Court together and attempt to explain the ludicrous behavior of this officer. Despite all this, it may still be an uphill battle.
Bottom line: Too much weight is placed on these stupid field exercises, too many officers don’t know or don’t care when it is appropriate to use fields or when it is appropriate to stop a car. When cops flat out lie as the officer at the top of this story did (repeatedly until she was finally FIRED), it seriously hurts a lot of people including her fellow officers; obviously, she did not bother to stop and think about that before lying in Court to obtain convictions, or tasering people without cause while they sat in their car (this little maneuver cost her department $40,000).
Be advised that whatever position you find yourself in (court, judge, juror or bystander, don’t take this field crap at face value just because a cop says its true does not make it so) they have clear bias in these cases and some (not all) take it way too far for in order to obtain the almighty conviction.