DWI Issue Panel

February 2012 — A number of DWI issues were discussed by the panel. Peter Lederman’s presentation topics were Suppression Motions and Field Sobriety Testing. These two issues are critical in DWI prosecutions.

Suppression Motions require that the court determine whether the investigating police officers have met Constitutional standards while conducting their investigation.

The three specific Constitutional standards involve whether the State can prove by a preponderance of evidence at a pre-trial hearing, a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a motor vehicle violation occurred in order to justify the stop of the vehicle, whether the State can justify requiring the defendant to perform field sobriety tests and most important, whether the State can justify arresting the driver after the arrest for DWI, by showing that probable cause of intoxication and operation can be shown.

Obviously, field sobriety tests are crucial in defending a driver charged with DWI. The State’s best tool in demonstrating probable cause are these three tests, designed by the Federal Government’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. These tests are designed to be objective, with “standardized” instructions for test administration, standardized “scoring factors” or “clues” which allow for objective scoring of tests and standardized decision points, which determine whether the driver has shown probable cause of intoxication.

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