Do Most DUII Charges Originate as a Police Stop for a Traffic Infraction?

Interviewer: In a typical scenario. Someone is driving, they get pulled over, and it’s typically for what reason? Is it usually for a traffic infraction?

The Police Need Probable Cause to Stop a Driver

John Reade: The police have to have probable cause to pull someone over. Usually, the police officer says there was a traffic violation or infraction. Many times they will say the person did not maintain what is called a single lane of travel (i.e. if they didn’t stay within the confines of their traffic lane).

It could be they were speeding, did not put their turn signal on, did not fully stop at a stop sign; basically any type of traffic infraction would give the police officer legal grounds to stop someone.

Interviewer:  What will typically happen during the stop?

The Officer Will Run the License Plate Number And Then The Driver’s License Number to See If They Have Any Outstanding Warrants or a Prior Criminal History

John Reade: The officer will approach the person, and ask them for their driver’s license and registration. Generally, they then run a warrant check to see if the person has any warrants out for their arrest, or if their license is suspended, or if there is anything else that they should be concerned about.

The Officer can find out if the driver has a concealed weapons permit, or if they have a prior criminal record. The Officer wants to have an idea of what they may or may not be encountering, when they go up to the individual they stopped.

Open Containers and Speech: The Police Actually Begin a DUII Investigation When They Approach the Driver in the Car

The police officer goes up to the driver of the car so they can see if there are any open containers; let’s say if beer cans or any alcohol is visible in the car. They get close enough to the driver so they can determine whether there is a smell of alcohol on the person’s breath.

The officer starts engaging the driver in conversation, to see if their speech is slurred. The officer looks at their eyes, to see if their eyes are watery and bloodshot, because they argue that is an indication the driver is under the influence, amongst the other factors, such as slurred speech, etc.

The Police Observe How the Driver Exits the Vehicle

Interviewer: Will the police ask the driver to undergo field sobriety tests or a breath test?

John Reade: The next step in the process is they will usually ask the driver to get out of the car. Some officers do that to see if the driver stumbles or loses their balance, and also so they can get close to the person to, once again, look at their eyes closer, and determine whether there is a smell of alcohol on their breath. The officer will then typically ask the driver if they will do what is called standard field sobriety tests.

The Driver May Be Asked to Perform the Standard Field Sobriety Tests

Interviewer: What is the purpose of standard field sobriety tests?

John Reade: The standard field sobriety tests are called divided attention tests. The theory behind them is that they are suppose to test two things. The person’s ability to understand and follow instructions, and the person’s physical ability to perform physical tests.

Interviewer: After the field sobriety tests, are they then asked to take a breath test or are they automatically arrested? What happens at that point?

The Driver Is Arrested after an Unsatisfactory Performance of the Field Sobriety Tests

John Reade: Usually after the officer performs the field sobriety test, if they in their opinion say that the person failed, then they will arrest the person. After the officer arrests the driver they will read them the Miranda Rights, and then bring them down to, typically a jail, where they have a breath test machine and ask them if they will take a breath test.

Will the Officer Also Ask for a Blood Draw?

Interviewer: In Oregon, are there any blood draws that are routinely administered?

John Reade: You can only ask for a blood draw if a person has been in an accident, and is basically unconscious, or if an officer has probable cause to believe that there will be evidence of intoxicant in their blood. For example, if the officer asks the driver to take a breath test and the driver blows .00, and the officer feels that there is something affecting, the driver, mentally and or physically, but it’s not alcohol; then they can ask for or request a blood draw.

After the Arrest and Breath Tests, Most Drivers Are Given a Citation with an Order to Appear in Court and Released

Interviewer: What is the next step in the arrest process? Are they going to be incarcerated for a while or are they let go?

John Reade: Typically, in Josephine County and many other counties in Oregon, the officer gives the driver a citation, as far as a date and time to appear in court. The police officer also gives the driver paperwork as far as the breath test results, and information about the drivers right to contest the license suspension due to a breath test refusal or failure. They usually do not arrest the driver and keep them in jail, until they post bail.

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