Good Friends And Field Sobriety Tests

Justin’s buddy was arrested for O.V.I. (D.U.I.) and called Justin to pick him up at the police station. Being a good friend, Justin drove to the police station. When he arrived, Justin was greeted by an officer who noticed that Justin had glazed eyes, slurred speech, and an odor of alcohol. The officer had Justin get out of the car, and the officer administered field sobriety tests. The officer arrested Justin and charged him with O.V.I. Justin later appealed his O.V.I. conviction, claiming the officer did not have justification to administer field sobriety tests.

The court of appeals decided Justin’s case in September of 2011 (State v. Trimble). The court reviewed the law regarding this part of the O.V.I. arrest process, which essentially says that, to administer field sobriety tests, an officer must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the suspect is under the influence. The court then evaluated Justin’s situation using a list of factors from the 1998 case State v. Evans and concluded that the officer was justified in administering field sobriety tests to Justin due to the time of day, Justin’s glazed eyes, the odor of alcohol, and Justin’s slurred speech. Justin’s conviction was upheld.

Justin learned the hard way that it doesn’t take much evidence to justify the administration of field sobriety tests. What he probably didn’t know, which most people don’t, is that he could have refused to perform the field sobriety tests. At least Justin is a good friend: a friend picks you up from jail, but a good friend is in jail with you.

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