Facts are facts, but when we are talking about them in the context of supporting an argument, some facts support that argument and others do not. When facts do not support an argument, we call them “bad facts.”
One of our clients was charged with a DUI after being stopped by a police officer. The officer administered the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and felt our client performed poorly on them. However, the officer’s did not have a dash-cam or body-cam capture any footage of this stop. Since there was no objective evidence of the stop or the SFSTs, we had to make sure that the officer did not leave out any “bad facts” for his case.
During the prosecutor’s direct examination, the officer testified quickly and concisely, stating all of the observations that supported his case. The officer claimed that our client speeding, that our client had red/glassy eyes, that he had the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, that he failed the SFSTs, and that he refused to submit to a chemical breath test.
This paints one picture of the case, but leaves out “bad facts” that do not support the officer’s account of the stop. During cross-examination, we uncovered these facts and completed the picture for the judge.
The officer conceded that our client did not commit any other traffic violations aside from speeding. There was no erratic or otherwise unusual movement of the vehicle. Our client was cooperative and polite while they spoke, and he did not fumble through his wallet or lean on the vehicle for support while stepping out of the car. The officer did not observe any alcoholic beverages inside of the vehicle.
Additionally, the officer conceded that SFSTs are not “pass/fail” tests, and that our client did show composure during the walk-and-turn and one-legged stand. We also uncovered that while the tests were being administered, it was cold outside and that there was heavy traffic on the roadway, both “bad facts” that the officer acknowledged could have contributed to our client’s mistakes on these two tests.
Lastly, the officer admitted that he had only performed two prior DUI arrests and that his training for these types of arrests was relatively limited.
While one side of the story presents facts in support of their argument, we worked to uncover the facts that represented a fuller story of what happened during the stop. We found that our client was composed and polite, that there were other factors that may have contributed to any mistakes on the SFSTs, and that the officer who performed the stop was fairly inexperienced in both the training for and execution of potential DUI stops.
Consequently, the judge found our client not guilty of DUI.
If you suffer an unfair DUI charge, we strongly encourage you to contact Richard Fenbert at Fenbert & Associates, LLC, so that he can assist you in avoiding a suspended license.