Law enforcement officers are given a great deal of authority and discretion. After all, a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper or a Chattanooga Police officer, if they observe that your vehicle has a taillight out or you weave in and out of your lane, they can pull over and have a word with you.
If they have reason to believe you are impaired with alcohol or drugs, they can ask you to perform some field sobriety tests. If they, in their subjective opinion, believe you have failed those tests, they can arrest you.
We assume that officer are trained to know what to look for when evaluating a potentially a drunk driver, and that they are just not randomly pulling over cars, hoping to discover a candidate for a DUI charge.
And there is a fine line between proper enforcement and overzealous enforcement. One officer with the Red Bank police department has been seen as perhaps crossing that line. His DUI cases have an almost 30 percent dismissal rate, and a few of those arrested have felt that he was far too eager to make an arrest, whether or not it was valid.
As one attorney noted, during a DUI arrest, the actions of the police officer are crucial. They are not merely collecting the facts and writing a report. They are participating in the creation of the evidence that may be used to convict a driver of a DUI.
A field sobriety test, while cloaked in the aura of a “scientific test,” is really little more than the officer’s observation of a driver. The test can be manipulated by the officer and can be affected by issues other than alcohol impairment.
This is why if you have been stopped for DUI, your attorney carefully investigates all elements of your arrest and examines the behavior of the law enforcement officer.
Timesfreepress.com, “Red Bank’s DUI king arrests hundreds: Attorneys say officer nabs sober drivers, as well,” Shelly Bradbury, November 9, 2014