Witness Testimony (Just Because an Officer Says 'It is So,' Is It?)
When it comes down to determining whether someone is under the influence of
alcohol or another drug, it is common to think that the only opinion that matters
is the arresting officer's. That is not true, however. The driver himself
has just as worthy of an opinion as to whether he is impaired. The Court,
then, will determine credibility and the conclusion is not always a given.
It should come as no surprise that law enforcement personnel have a motivation,
even an incentive, to arrest people for DUI or DWI. First, they will
explain that it is their duty to uphold the law, which is true. What many
of them will not admit is that sometimes their official reviews for promotion
take into account how many DUI arrests they have and that some departments
have even dealt with the issue of having a minimum quota of DUI arrests.
In fact, arresting people for DUI is so popular among certain groups that
there are national awards given to the cops with the highest number of DUI
arrests. So, to say there is a little pride going into every traffic stop
for DUI is an understatement.
Therefore, when an officer takes the stand to tell the judge that a driver was
too drunk to drive, is that an end all? Not necessarily.
In People v. Bavas, 191 Ill.Dec.286, 623 N.E.2d 876 (2 Dist. 1993), the defendant
driver told the judge that he had only two beers during a four hour period.
The defendant's statement was not controverted by anyone. Although the
officer stated the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, the defendant
disagreed and the judge believed the defendant. The judge found that the
officer had no reasonable grounds to have the defendant arrested, thereby dismissing
A similar result occurred in the People v. Kuntz, 180 Ill.Dec.419, 607 N.E.2d
313 (3 Dist. 1993), where that defendant driver explained that he had consumed
a minimal amount of alcohol and that he was not under the influence of alcohol.
Before dismissing the case for no reasonable grounds, the judge further found
that the driver was able to perform field sobriety testing.
The moral of the story is that, if you are arrested for DUI or DWI, your own
words are important, as well as your actions. A skilled local DUI attorney
can present your case in a light most favorable to you and in complete contrast
to the arresting officer's version.
If you or someone you know gets charged with a DUI or a DWI, a common legal inquiry
that should be asked by a competent attorney is did the officer have "probable
cause", or a good reason, to make the arrest?
It is important to retain an attorney who is highly experienced in local DUI
law. In addition, your attorney must be familiar with the county in which
you are charged. Your Local DUI Attorney may be able to challenge various
portions of summary suspension. In addition to challenging the suspension,
your Local DUI Attorney may able to have the criminal case dismissed or reduced
from a DUI.
the State to Find a DUI Attorney in Your Area
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