Every so often Maryland law enforcement agencies conduct sobriety checkpoints in an attempt to keep drunk drivers off the roads. A recent check point identified three drivers that were pulled over and given field sobriety tests. As a result of those tests, they were arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
The checkpoint, nicknamed "Checkpoint Strikeforce" ran from Friday, Sept. 20 at 11 p.m. through Saturday, Sept. 21. at approximately 2:25 a.m. During that time, Maryland State Police say that 222 vehicles went through the checkpoint. There were a total of 10 troopers manning it.
In order to arrest someone for drunk driving, law enforcement officers first have to establish that the driver is impaired. In order to do this, officers use several "tests" that have been devised to identify whether a driver is drunk. However, many of these tests are not correctly administered and can lead to an arrest only to find out later through additional testing that the person was not intoxicated. Further, even if a breath or blood test indicates an elevated blood alcohol level, that doesn't necessarily mean that the arrest was lawful.
Establishing probable cause for an arrest is an important part of the legal process. If the field sobriety tests are not appropriately administered, the validity of the arrest may be called into question. A thorough review of the process by which the tests were administered, the experience of the officer performing the tests and any other significant circumstances surrounding a drunk driving arrest may reveal that officers failed to establish probable cause. In that case, the field sobriety tests and evidence gathered after them may not be admissible in court resulting in a dismissal of the charges.
Source: Bel Air, MD Patch, Bel Air Sobriety Checkpoint Nets Three Arrests, Kaitlyn Carr, Sept. 23, 2013