Ohio DUI Defense: Innocent Explanations for Evidence of Impairment

Article By Jeremiah Denslow | October 6, 2016
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In the majority of Ohio DUI cases, law enforcement personnel generally report all or a portion of the following indicators of impairment:

  • Poor driving
  • Odor of alcohol
  • Slurred speech
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Poor coordination
  • Admission of drinking

Ohio police officers will universally use the aforementioned evidence to bolster their case that a driver is impaired or has a blood alcohol content that’s above the legal limit. However, a good DUI defense lawyer knows that there are other perfectly reasonable explanations for why the aforementioned factors are present in an Ohio DUI case.

For example, poor driving can simply be the result of distracted driving or the driver being unfamiliar with the area and roadway. There are many, many cases where a driver is stopped for speeding or crossing left of center where the driver has not had a drink. An odor of alcohol can often be attributed to other people in the vehicle who are intoxicated. It can also be an odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath from drinking the night before or even having a few beers just before being pulled over, while still being under the legal limit to drive. Remember that it’s not illegal to drink and drive, rather it’s illegal too drink too much and drive. Slurred speech can be caused by a number of things, including legally prescribed medication, fatigue and many medical conditions. Red, watery eyes may be a sign of drinking but it could just as easily be a sign of allergies, sleepiness or a medical condition like glaucoma.

If you’ve ever witnessed a person trying to perform field sobriety testing, you probably recognize that while most of the tests can be difficult to complete while intoxicated, they can be just as hard to perform when perfectly sober. The first test typically involves the DUI suspect standing on one leg for approximately thirty seconds, while he raises his other leg awkwardly into the air. A second test involves the DUI suspect walking back and forth on an imaginary straight line on the side of a road, heel to toe, and pivoting in an unorthodox, unnatural fashion. Keep in mind, these tests are often performed in the dark, late at night, in adverse weather conditions with a steady stream of traffic driving nearby at high speeds. Further, the officer’s cruiser is typically pointed in the subject’s direction with the headlights on, and sometimes, sirens activated. Put simply, many of these tests are difficult to perform sober, let alone after a drink or two. Thus, it’s hard to get a fair assessment of a suspected DUI driver’s level of impairment without knowing how they would perform the test on a normal day, without consuming any alcohol.

Of course, not all evidence can be explained away so easily. For example, I’ve seen cases where a suspected Ohio DUI driver vomits or passes out in the backseat of a cruiser. I’ve also represented clients who have been their own worst enemy in terms of voluntarily providing law enforcement with evidence of intoxication. These cases usually involve a suspected DUI driver admitting to drinking all day at a Buckeye’s game or consuming way too much alcohol at the bar before attempting to drive home at 2:30am. Some of the more difficult cases include an admission of drinking along with a voluntary breath test where the driver blows an extremely high blood alcohol content. Remember, everything you say on the night of the DUI incident can later be used against you when the case goes to court. Further, the breath test is voluntary and not necessarily required by law. Sometimes, suspected DUI drivers would be best served by politely declining to take a breath test, particularly when they know they are going to fail.

As you can see, most cases utilize similar types of evidence that may initially appear to show intoxication. However, upon closer examination, what appears to be damaging evidence is often times very innocent and not connected to intoxication in any way. No Ohio DUI/OVI arrest is perfect and the best Ohio DUI/OVI lawyers know this. Most Ohio DUI/OVI investigations include a number of witnesses, including police officers and the personnel who collect, store and test chemical samples.  These witnesses are human and they make mistakes.

There are over a million laws in the United States and thousands in the state of Ohio alone. I am a top Ohio DUI lawyer who focuses his entire practice on just one. Because of my considerable experience and concentrated practice, I understand the Ohio DUI/OVI laws better than most attorneys in the state. I am passionate about Ohio DUI/OVI defense and I get results. If you have an Ohio DUI case and want a top Ohio DUI/OVI lawyer to represent you, please give me a call.