Driver's License hearing results in Driver retaining license
Client stopped in Missouri for a lane violation and charged with DWI. Driver refused breath test and was given a notice of suspension for one year. Civil action filed against Department of Revenue (DOR) challenging the one-year suspension of driver's license on the grounds the Officer did not have probable cause to arrest the driver for suspicion of DWI. The standard of proof necessary to prove the arrest was legal is "preponderance of the evidence" at the license hearing. Following a bench trial, the trial Judge ruled against the DOR and in favor of my client after aggressive cross-examination of the arresting officer. The officer failed to follow proper procedure in the administration of the standardized field sobriety tests, completing the Horizontal Gaze Nystagms (HGN) while the driver wore his eye glasses. Any eyewear must be removed before scoring the HGN test. It is clearly written in the officer's training manual. Second, the officer did not demonstrate the One Leg Stand test as instructed in the NHTSA (national highway traffic safety administration) manual. Officers must give verbal instructions and a brief demonstration by holding the foot off the ground 6 inches while counting by one-thousands (1001, 1002, 1003, etc). The officer gave verbal instructions but did not demonstrate the foot position off the ground for a minium of 3 seconds. The trial Judge in favor of the Driver/Petitioner after giving full consideration to the limited admissible tests. The only remaining test conducted in accordance with NHTSA guidelines, the Walk and Turn (WNT) test, resulted in a couple "clues" of impairment but did not, by itself, create probable cause to arrest the driver. In the end, it was the officer's lack of training and experience with field testing testing and my experience in cross-examination on these tests that led to a positive outcome for my client.
UPDATE, Sept. 17, 2016: Criminal DWI filed in municipal court dismissed after motion to suppress was filed and submitted to the prosecutor. Same issues listed above served as the basis of the suppression. Happy client.
Court: Circuit Court