The United States postmaster assigned to Springfield Illinois was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). DUI arrests typically follows a similar pattern.
At the time of any traffic stop, the officer will be looking for signs of impaired driving. One of the early indicators of impaired driving involves the nature of the traffic offense. Studies have shown that driving too slowly, weaving and making wide turns are some of the most common indications of alcohol impairment that result in a DUI arrest.
Another phase in the analysis comes about during the initial face-to-face contact. At that juncture, the officer may notice slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes and confusion. The driver may be disoriented as to destination, location, date and time.
As in any traffic stop, the officer will request a driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. Difficulty locating and producing these items (fumbling, dropping, producing the wrong thing) will be scored against the driver.
No doubt the officer will eventually ask about alcohol consumption. Rather than asking if the driver has been drinking, the officer will ordinarily ask a more leading question, how much have you had to drink tonight? Most commonly the answer is a couple or nothing. A denial of any alcohol consumption will bring out a skeptical response from the police, such as, are you sure, I can smell it on your breath?
Moving along, the driver will be asked to step out of the vehicle. This represents one more chance for the police to note any other signs of impairment. Examples would be difficulty getting out of the vehicle, assistance in standing or walking to the rear of it and stumbling, staggering and swaying while walking, as well as leaning against the vehicle for support.
The driver will then be put through a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) There are three recognized tests.
The first is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagumus (HGN). In this test, the officer waves an object across the driver’s eyes in a certain fashion. Some questionable science claims this can detect alcohol impairment. The officer scores the results.
A secong recognized test is the Walk-and-Turn (WAT). This is the “walk a straight line” test. Nine steps down, turn, nine steps back with all sorts of criteria to meet and many ways to score the driver as having failed.
The third SFST is the One-Legged-Stand (OLS). Stand on one leg for thirty seconds without touching the ground. Many people cannot pass this test even in the best of conditions and even without having consumed alcohol. Yet the driver, on the roadside, at night, nervous, cold, wind blowing, is expected to pass.
Next, the driver will be asked to give a breath sample into a device known as a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) device. The results are not admissible in court but can be used to support a DUI arrest. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.5
An arrest will follow. After being transported to the jail, the driver will be asked to provide a breath sample to determine his or her blood alcohol level. Any reading at .08 or higher is considered under the influence. But even without a reading, the state may be able to prove the DUI case based upon the other observations set forth above.
Illinois Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and standardized field sobriety tests February 11, 2010, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg
Summary of requirements for admission of DUI breath tests in Illinois