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Common Mistakes Made by Police in a DUI Arrest

If you are pulled over by the police for suspected DUI, the officers will conduct an investigation to determine if there is probable cause to make an arrest. Even if you end up arrested for and later charged with a DUI in Nevada, if law enforcement officials made any mistakes during the investigation, the case could ultimately be dismissed if the credibility of the officer and/or evidence comes into question.

The following are some of the most common errors committed by police officers during a DUI investigation:

  1. Lack of reasonable suspicion – Law enforcement officials must obtain reasonable suspicion – or reasonable grounds that you are violating the law – before pulling someone over while driving. They must state the reason why you were stopped, such as you were speeding, failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign, making unsafe lane changes without signaling, or engaging in unsafe driving behavior. If the police stop you because of a hunch or gut feeling, that is not enough to establish reasonable suspicion, which makes the stop illegal and any evidence inadmissible.

  2. Field sobriety testing errors – The police commonly use three NHTSA-standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) to properly evaluate intoxication. If an officer fails to properly administer a test, was not properly trained or certified to conduct such tests, or failed to take into account other factors (e.g., such as weather conditions, road conditions, and the driver’s health and physical condition), then the results from these tests cannot be used in court.

  3. Breath testing errors – Officers must also be trained and certified to administer a breathalyzer test. They need to and ensure the device is calibrated, perform a 15- to 20-minute observation period before conducting a test, and follow other important steps. If an officer fails to take one of these steps, the results from a breathalyzer test are inadmissible.

  4. DUI checkpoint mistakes – The police must follow certain rules when setting up sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks. For example, checkpoints need to be visible at least 100 yards in either direction and signs with flashing lights must be at least 50 yards away or 700 feet away in rural areas. Officers must also have an unbiased procedure when stopping vehicles (e.g., every third or fifth car). If you were arrested at an improper checkpoint; your case will likely be dismissed.

After getting arrested, you must hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine if the arresting officers made any mistakes. If your lawyer discovers any police errors, a motion to suppress related to the evidence will be filed.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Reno, contact the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover today for a free initial consultation. Let a former prosecutor protect your rights and freedom!