A Champaign Illinois police sergeant was arrested for DUI The arrest occurred in nearby Piatt County (Monticello).
The DUI arrest was anything but routine. The cop was weaving across the Interstate so badly that other drivers called the police.
The driver had slurred speech and an odor of alcohol. Thereafter, he was administered a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST)
The first of the three tests administered would have been the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The examiner administers the test by waving a pencil or other object at different angles across the subject’s face.
He watches for certain movements in the accused’s eyes. He “scores” the test by assessing how well, in his opinion, the subject performs against expected norms. As you can see, the test may not be as reliable or scientific as police claim.
First of all, the test is scored by a person who already suspects the subject is intoxicated. Otherwise, the officer would not be asking the accused to perform the test.
Furthermore, the accused is being measured against a hypothetical “normal” person. This fails to take into account inherent physical differences from one person to the next, differences that do not necessarily translate into proof of intoxication.
If you flip a coin ten times and tails comes up seven times, that does not prove the flip was invalid. It just proves that averages merely represent the expected outcome. Variances in results do not prove that something is amiss.
The second test that the defendant would have performed was the walk-and-turn (WAT). It is just like what it sounds: you walk nine steps, turn around and walk nine steps back from where you came. The officer “scores” your performance.
But you are not just walking. You are walking “heel-to-toe”. You are walking on an imaginary line. You are required to walk with your arms and hands in a certain position, as well as your eyes and head.
As you take each step, you must count aloud. And you are supposed to turn in a specific manner. Not a military turn but “small steps” in the proper direction. And if you begin your steps in either direction on the wrong foot or begin before the cop says “go”, points are taken off.
The final SFST is the one-legged stand (OLS). You must stand on one foot for thirty seconds while you count. Your leg must be six inches off the ground. Your hands must be at your waist. You must look down at your foot. You must not wobble. Try it yourself, even before you have had a drop to drink. Many of you cannot pass.
After determining that you failed these tests (it’s inevitable), the officer will ask you to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) as authorized by law. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.5 The results of this unscientific device are not admissible in court to prove your blood alcohol level (BAL) but they are something the judge can consider when determining whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
Once you are arrested, you will be asked to take a chemical test (commonly referred to as a “Breathalyzer”). If you blow, the results are admissible in court to prove your BAL/intoxication. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2 If you decline to take the test, the prosecutor will use that refusal to argue that you had a “guilty state of mind”.
In addition to failing the SFST, the Champaign police sergeant registered a chemical test result of .26. This is more than three times the legal limit of .08. Despite all of this, the judge granted the officer, after he pleaded guilty to DUI, court supervision, thereby saving the officer his driver’s license.