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How Do Police Officers Decide to Arrest Someone for OUI?

Posted on : January 20, 2021

Law enforcement officers cannot make an arrest without sufficient evidence that someone has committed a crime. In the case of OUI, the officer must be reasonably sure that you are inebriated and unsafe to drive your vehicle. 

Before deciding to take you into custody for operating your vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a police officer should conduct: 

An Observation of Your Vehicle Prior to the Stop 

First, the police officer will assess the nature of your driving before pulling you over. The officer is looking for indicators of drunk or impaired driving, such as swerving, drifting into the other lane, excessive speeding or driving significantly under the speed limit, etc. 

A Sight and Smell Investigation 

When the officer approaches your vehicle, they will look for any readily available evidence that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For example, the officer will be paying attention to any smells in your car like alcohol or marijuana, and will be looking through your windows for open containers, drug paraphernalia, and any other contraband. 

An Evaluation of the Driver’s Initial Behavior 

The officer will also be paying attention to your behavior as they engage with you during the traffic stop. They’ll determine if you’re acting intoxicated in any way, such as having difficulty understanding what they’re saying, slurring your words, or displaying poor balance and coordination. 

This is why it’s so important to stay silent and avoid getting out of your vehicle whenever possible during a traffic stop. 

Chemical Testing  

If a law enforcement officer suspects you of driving while intoxicated, they will generally conduct a chemical test to determine if you’re under the influence of alcohol. Usually, this is a simple breathalyzer test that is conducted on the scene. This measures the level of alcohol in your blood and if over the legal limit, you will likely be arrested. 

Field Sobriety Testing 

If the police officer asks you to submit to a field sobriety test and you agree, they’ll be using your performance on the tasks to determine how inebriated you are. This could be detrimental to your case considering that roadside sobriety tests are extraordinarily difficult to pass even when sober. 

Were You Arrested for Operating Under the Influence? Call Now 

If you were arrested for an OUI, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact our office today for a consultation at 413.737.9700 (Springfield), 413.585.9200 (Northampton), or 413.549.0022 (Amherst).  

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