Palm Beach DUI Lawyer: Odor of Alcohol & Speeding

IS ODOR OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE ON A SUSPECT’S BREATH ENOUGH FOR A POLICE OFFICER TO ARREST FOR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE?
As a rule, odor of an alcoholic beverage on a driver’s breath does not establish the requisite probable cause to make an arrest and subsequently ask for a breath sample. It may however, be used in conjunction with other observations, such as slurred speech or lack of coordination to meet the required threshold. The totality of the circumstances governs in this regard and it may surprise you to learn that odor of an alcoholic beverage can be paired with observations that in itself do not indicate impairment whatsoever. NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long established that speeding is not in itself a cue of a driver’s intoxication. This is due to the fact that speeding requires a higher level of coordination and reaction time, which is in contrast to let’s say, failure to maintain a single lane or swerving. Nonetheless, the Florida courts seem to have indicated that speeding coupled with an odor of an alcoholic beverage would be enough to formulate probable cause to make an arrest. In a recent case decided by the Second District Court of Appeals, a suspect was properly arrested after police officers detected odor of an alcoholic beverage, saw the defendant speeding, and additionally witnessed him acting violently. The court’s ruling seems flawed in that only one of these three facts goes directly to impairment by alcohol.