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What are examples of subjective DWI observations?

Many police officers rely on subjective evidence when deciding to pull someone over for suspicion of DWI, and what happens from then on is often subjective, too. That can be one angle for defense attorneys to take when fighting charges. For example, if an officer cannot back up what “excessive weaving” means, then poking holes into the officer’s observations may be easy.

Of course, there can be so-called objective evidence in the mix as well; for example, the results of BAC tests. In such cases, there may be ways to show that tests were administered improperly or working incorrectly. In any case, here is a look at some examples of subjective DWI observations that may not hold much weight in court if challenged.

How the driver looks

A police officer might note that the driver had red eyes, hair sticking out and a misbuttoned shirt. However, this can be explained as a symptom of the driver having been on the road for a long time, having just gotten off a long shift or driving in the middle of the night to pick someone up. It does not have to indicate the involvement of any alcohol whatsoever.

How the driver behaves

What about speech that a police officer describes as slurred? Or, what about a police officer saying the driver dropped his license and fumbled around to pick it up? Again, these could point to a tired driver, a stressed driver, even. The person might have speech impediments or other disabilities.

What is also interesting is that in cases of slurred speech, police officers magically happen to be able to understand what drivers tell them about having had alcohol earlier, and yet the officers seem unable to comprehend almost nothing else.

The driver’s behavior before being pulled over can be subjective as well. What does “excessive speeding” mean? For example, there is a big difference between going 35 in a 25 mph zone and going 60 in that same zone. Other words to look out for include “evasive” and “unsafe.”

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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