RJ, a 48-year-old carpenter, was charged with OUI-2nd offense after he caused a 3-car accident. When officers arrived on the scene of the crash they smelled the “odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath,” saw that he was “unsteady on his feet,” and heard that his “speech was slurred.” The officers administered Field Sobriety Tests, which RJ did not pass. Based on the officers’ opinions, they arrested RJ and charged him with OUI-2nd offense (RJ had been previously convicted of OUI in 1986).
At trial, 3 police officers testifed that RJ was impaired by alcohol. They each offered an opinion of RJ’s impairment based on their first-hand observations of him. Attorney Henry Fasoldt challenged each officer’s opinion, and exposed the opinions as unscientific, unreliable, and, most importantly, not enough to meet the “Reasonable Doubt” standard. Henry also exposed the lack of reliability in field sobriety testing; specifically, that these tests merely measure a person’s balance and coordination – not necessarily their level of impairment. In addition, a “booking video” showed that RJ’s speech was not slurred and that he did not walk unsteadily.
The jury found RJ Not Guilty.
After trial, RJ’s license was reinstated by the court.