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Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication at DUI Hearing

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What are the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication?

After a pleasant dinner out with your spouse, you’re headed for home when the red lights of a police cruiser begin flashing behind you. Immediately you yield to the officer and stop alongside the curb. Although you can’t imagine what you’ve done wrong, your heart is pounding in your chest because you know you drank a few glasses of wine with your meal. Rolling the driver’s window, you greet the officer only to have him shine a blinding flashlight directly into your eyes. Before you even know what is happening, you’ve been ordered out of the car because the officer claims to smell alcohol and that your eyes are red and watery.

The vast majority of DUI arrests begin just like this. A simple night out for dinner and before you know it, you’re sitting in a jail cell.

While there are some exceptions such as traffic collisions and police contact for other matters, most DUI arrests begin with a traffic stop and then the officer seeing, smelling, or hearing something that makes him suspect you have been drinking alcohol. The detection of these “clues” is the first step toward a full-blown DUI investigation. Police officers and many government agencies incorrectly refer to these “clues” as the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication. The problem is, however, there is nothing objective about this in the least. If the only thing that caused these symptoms to be present was alcohol intoxication, then calling them “objective” would be proper. The reality is that there are literally hundreds of factors that can cause these symptoms to be present that have nothing to do with alcohol intoxication.

When making any traffic stop, police officers are taught to closely scan the driver for the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol.   At Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearings, we have testified over and over again that “every traffic stop is a DUI investigation.” Essentially this the officers suspect that every driver is a drunk driver.

Examining a driver for the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication begins the moment the officer first meets with a driver. The most common “objective symptoms” that will cause a DUI investigation are:

  • Odor of an alcoholic beverage on breath or person.
  • Admission of alcohol consumption.
  • Evasive or contradictory answers to questions.
  • Bloodshot, red or watery eyes.
  • Flushed face
  • Slurred speech… slow or deliberate speech…..speaking softly.
  • Problems with motor skills (i.e. fumbling with wallet, unable to find documents).
  • Unsteady exit from vehicle.
  • Unsteady gait (i.e. stumbling, staggering, leaning again car, falling).
  • Disheveled appearance.
  • Soiled clothing.

Although there can be perfectly innocent explanations for why any or all of these symptoms may be present, a police officer will most assuredly presume it is because you are impaired by alcohol.

Why are the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication Used at an APS Hearing?

First of all, remember that law enforcement officers must have a lawful reason to detain a person for a DUI investigation.   This begins with establishing “probable cause” for the original stop. After that, however, the officer will be expected to articulate what justified the further detention of the driver and why a DUI investigation was conducted.

After reading literally thousands of DUI arrest reports, the DMV Experts at California Drivers Advocates, have come to expect police officers to indicate that the decision to conduct a DUI investigation was justified because the driver displayed the “Objective Symptoms of Intoxication.” This means that the objective symptoms are the gateway to a full-blown series of Field Sobriety Tests.

In the interest of furthering their DUI investigation, Law Enforcement Officers will often ignore innocent conditions that may cause Objective Symptoms to be present. Contact lenses or allergies can cause eyes to be red, bloodshot and watery. A spilled alcohol beverage can cause the odor or alcohol to be present. Arthritis or previous sports injuries can cause unsteady gait. The fact is, once a law enforcement officer detects the “Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication,” the driver is very likely going to be arrested, regardless of what he says or does.   In fact, law enforcement officers are not demoted, fired or penalized in any way for mistakenly arresting a sober person, so there is no incentive to do anything but make arrests.

How Can I Fight the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication at an APS Hearing?

Although these symptoms are incorrectly referred to as “objective” symptoms, they are not. They are entirely “subjective.” Introducing video recordings, audio recordings, witness testimony or medical records may all be a viable means to rebut the presumption that the symptoms were objective.   The secret to success in any Administrative Per Se Hearing is a full and thorough investigation that reveals the truth.

If the truth is presented in a proper format, the DMV Hearing Officer must consider it as evidence. But that is the problem. Evidence must be properly announced and presented to be considered by the DMV. Documents must be authenticated and witnesses will be cross-examined. Evidence does not come into a hearing just because the driver wants it to. It must be relevant, trustworthy and timely.

This is why it is so critically important to retain the services of a DMV Defense Expert from California Drivers Advocates. The presentation of affirmative evidence is only possible if properly prepared. We’ve been fighting to explain and disprove the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication for many years and we can do so for you.


Let Us Attack the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication in Your APS Hearing.

Most of the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication annotated in police reports can be explained by factors that have nothing to do with alcohol consumption, but because it is presumed that police officers have performed their “official duty.” Because the DMV will presume that Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication are only present in drunk drivers, you have the burden to explain why they were present; if they were at all.

The DMV Defense Experts at CDA are former police officers, DMV hearing officers, investigators and forensic scientists who have seen the Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication in all of their manifestations. We have also seen the DMV turn a blind eye to common sense to justify the suspension of a person’s driving privilege.

With years in the trenches, CDA has successfully fought the DMV over these issues. The Objective Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication are not supported by any science, whatsoever. We know how to fight these issues. Call us today and let us to go work attacking your case.

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