DUI Dismissed after Motion to Suppress Hearing
Client stopped for lane violation in Overland Park late at night. The officer ran client through a series of field sobriety tests, including the alphabet test, counting backwards test, and finger-dexterity test while driver was seated in his car. Client passed all three tests. The officer then wanted additional "field sobriety tests", including the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand tests. The latter two tests are well recognized in the DUI-investigation field and are always requested during a DUI investigation. Client showed very minimal clues of impairment on both tests. The officer then requested the preliminary breath test (PBT), the hand-held device often used at the end of the investigation. Client refused the PBT and was arrested for suspicion of DUI. Client provided a breath test at the station, registering just over the legal limit. We filed a motion to suppress the breath test based on an unlawful arrest since my client passed most, if not all, the field sobriety tests. The video evidence confirmed my clients good performance on these tests. Following a hearing, the court ruled that the officer clearly did not have probable cause to arrest my client based on the "totality of the circumstances" review. A recent Wichita case titled State vs. Molitor had very similar facts to our case. In Molitor, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts ruling that the officer's arrest of Molitor was legal based on a failure to establish probable cause to arrest. In particular, the battery of tests relied upon were not credible, especially the HGN (horizontal gaze) test. Since Molitor passed the other field tests, the Preliminary breath test (PBT) should not have been offered. Simply put, the evidence at the scene did not meet the probable cause standard to arrest Molitor
We relied on the Molitor ruling to make our case that under similar circumstances, the officer simply did not have probable cause to arrest following my client's excellent field sobriety test results. The bottom line is to contest each sobriety test and build the case that the PBT test should not have been offered based on the testing leading up to the PBT request.
Practice area(s): DUI / DWI