A weeks-long ordeal was in store for an Arizona driver arrested in Maricopa County for DUI and whose blood test later showed he was sober. As reported by ABC15, an officer stopped the 63-year-old man for reportedly drifting out of his lane while driving home from work and made the arrest based on roadside observations, rather than a chemical sobriety test.
The arrest took place after 10:00 p.m. on Labor Day. A second officer, trained as a drug recognition expert, arrived at the scene of the traffic stop and conducted a non-chemical field sobriety test. Despite the driver’s assertions that he demonstrated poor balance during the test only because of a long day at work as a home health aide, he found himself facing a DUI charge of impairment related to drugs.
Failing a drug recognition expert’s field sobriety test
The arresting officers noted that the driver displayed slurred speech, had watery and bloodshot eyes and moved his head excessively during the test. Although the DRE-trained officer did not complete all 12 steps of the field sobriety test, an arrest took place based on probable cause and without a chemical-based toxicology result. The officers also found no drugs in the vehicle.
In addition to the arrested driver’s long day at work affecting his balance, the driver’s wife noted that missing teeth and a northern New York State accent cause him to sound like he is slurring his words. Weeks after his arrest, the blood toxicology report proved the driver correct in his assertions; the test showed negative results. According to the prosecutor, however, factors observed at a traffic stop that point to probable cause may authorize officers to take a driver off the road without requiring a blood test.
Although exonerated by his blood test and dropped charges, the driver suffered collateral consequences, which can be the case even for a first-time DUI charge such as driving while impaired to the slighting degree. The arrest remains on the driver’s record. The home health aide worker has endured many sleepless nights worrying about its effect on his employment.