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  • David A. Cmelik Law PLC

Cedar Rapids Criminal Lawyer: top reasons for police officer to request sobriety tests in OWI traffi

emergency top lights police car

After an officer has conducted a Cedar Rapids or Iowa City traffic stop, ostensibly to alert a motorist to an equipment violation or cite the driver for a minor traffic violation, he or she will be on the lookout for a number of signs that will escalate to the next phase in an OWI (DUI) investigation.

If an officer observes any of the following they will inquire as to alcohol consumption and ultimately request purportedly voluntary standardized field sobriety testing:

1. Slurred, or thick tongued speech

2. Bloodshot, watery eyes

3. Odor of alcohol, or sometimes "consumed alcohol" that is "emanating" from their person or breath.

These are the signs most cited in affidavits and complaints in support of arrests as well as indictments and minutes of testimony.

Officers will follow on observations regarding alcohol consumption with questions designed to further the Cedar Rapids or Iowa City OWI (DUI) investigation with questions about:

1. Admissions about drinking, point of departure was a bar, restaurant or party

2. Open containers

3. Nonsensical answers or geographical inconsistency with point of departure and/or destination.

A note about "consumed alcohol." My impression of this officious phrase is that a crafty defense lawyer at some point asked a DUI trainer whether the odor of alcohol could be emanating from a spill or another passenger. Now officers cleverly use lingo to head off such arguments, like telling fact finders on direct examination that they separated the driver from other passengers in their patrol car and smelled alcohol coming from their breath when speaking to them. Now, trainers attempt to instill as much defensive language to prevent that argument as they can. It merely adds to the awkward nature of law enforcement-speak.

The most damaging of all the above signs, in terms of recorded evidence, is a personal admission of significant alcohol consumption (or outright denials that no alcohol has been consumed-- resulting in the most common answer: just a couple). A close second and third are apparent problems with gait and balance that look to the juror like intoxication. A skilled attorney licensed to practice law in Iowa and limited exclusively to the practice of criminal law can review such recorded evidence to determine its value in the prosecution or, alternatively, the defense.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for OWI (DUI) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or other Iowa community or county, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889 for a free initial consultation. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client privilege.

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