A Dothan police officer arrested on a DUI charge during the Memorial Day weekend has resigned, the Dothan Eagle reports.
The case highlights that DUI is a crime that anyone can commit, even an experienced police officer, who likely has arrested many people for driving drunk. And as is the case here, the charge itself cost the man his job. DUI in Alabama carries severe penalties and requires a Birmingham DUI lawyer who can fight the charges and try to protect a person's career.
In Dothan, the 40-year-old man, who was a 15-year veteran of the department, was arrested Saturday by Alabama State Troopers. According to the newspaper, he was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
According to the report, the officer was involved in an accident between Webb and Columbia, which are northeast of Dothan near the state line. According to troopers, the other party in the accident wasn't injured.
According to The Century Council, a non-profit group of distillers that aims to fight drunk driving, there were nearly 14,000 DUI arrests in 2009 in Alabama. This shows just how common the charge is and while it is a crime to drive drunk, there are many defenses.
One area of defense is in the field sobriety tests given by the responding officer. What happens in just about every suspected drunk driving incident is the officer will ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and complete a series of tests. There are only three tests that are legally recognized as being used to determine a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This is when an officer observes the eyes of the suspect as he or she follows a slowly moving object, usually a pen or a small flashlight, horizontally. Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eye, but when a person is impaired by alcohol, this is exaggerated.
Walk and Turn: This is one of the most recognized field sobriety tests out there. If people see a person pulled over and is walking in a straight line on the side of the road and an officer is taking notes, most people recognize it is a DUI stop. This is when the driver is told to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. They are then to turn on one foot and return in the opposite direction. The officer looks for problems keeping balance and other signs.
One Leg Stand: This test requires the suspect to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands until the officer tells the person to put their foot down, usually after 30 seconds. The officer will look for swaying, using their arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance and putting the foot down early.
But the statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are telling. The agency reports that 88 percent of drivers who show four or more clues of impairment on the HGN testing have a blood-alcohol content of .08 or greater. On the walk and turn, 79 percent of drivers who show two problems hit that BAC level and 83 percent on the one-leg stand who show two or more indicators.
What this shows is that many people arrested and charged with DUI can fail these tests and still not be drunk. While it is unfortunate, many people in society believe an arrest is indicative of guilt. But not Birmingham DUI lawyers. We will fight every aspect of your case.
If you or someone you know is arrested and needs to talk with a Birmingham DUI defense attorney, contact Eversole Law at 205-981-2450 for a free consultation.