What happens when an officer conducts a traffic stop? In most cases, state and federal law requires officers to have reason for a traffic stop. The stop may result in additional evidence that can lead to criminal charges, but it is important to have evidence to support the claim. An officer’s opinion is not enough.
A recent case provides an example of a driver who faced allegations of drunk driving based solely on the opinion of responding officers. The case began when police pulled over the pickup truck after a witness called police to report the vehicle was “weaving in and out of lanes.” During the stop, police claimed to smell alcohol and conducted a field sobriety test. During the test, the driver blew a 0.0%. Although the field sobriety test did not support the allegation of drunk driving, the officers used the presence of allegedly red eyes and a smell of alcohol to justify an arrest. As a result, the officers arrested the driver. They then took him to a local hospital for additional blood work and the officers forced the driver to spend the night in jail.
In addition to a night in the local jail, the officers also took away the driver’s license. He was without a driver’s license for two months as a result of this incident. The driver, Ed Oliver a defensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills also battled damage to his reputation. When the blood tests result came in, they supported the driver’s claim. There was no evidence to substantiate criminal charges.
Anyone who is the subject of a traffic stop can learn a valuable lesson from this case. The law requires police officers to follow proper protocol when making these stops. Officers need to have evidence to support allegations of criminal activity. It is important to follow up, to push for evidence to support the claims. When the evidence is not sufficient, the charges can be dropped — as was the case in this instance.