Fourth amendment law does not lend itself to mathematical formulas. Rather than using equations to decide Constitutional issues, courts look at the totality of the circumstances and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. This is particularly true when it comes to the issue of whether an officer had probable cause to justify an arrest. However, one theorem illustrated by a recent Ohio OVI case is this: clues on Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) does not equal Probable Cause (PC).
In Ohio, and throughout the United States, we have a Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In Ohio OVI cases, that means an officer can only arrest a suspect if the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In the recent case of State v. Bracken, the Court of Appeals concluded the arrest was not justified. Continue Reading
When authorities found Donna Wardell in her Chevrolet Impala, the car was upside-down, held in the air by part of the utility pole she just hit (see the story at app.com). Medics pulled her out of the car through the windshield and rushed her to the hospital. The medical team determined the crash was the result of a seizure caused by a brain tumor. Wardell did not know about the tumor: she learned of it in the hospital. She later learned something else: she was being charged with DWI because, when the medics removed Wardell from her car, they observed the odor of alcohol.