The recent sentencing of a Texas woman illustrates the progress of questions frequently asked by police officers who suspect an individual is driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to the evidence presented at trial, the woman was pulled over because of a near-fatal traffic accident. A local police lieutenant was on patrol when he claimed that the 24-year-old woman drove the wrong way into approaching traffic and nearly hit him. Fortunately, the woman swerved in time and was able to veer back into her own lane.
Although the officer turned on his lights, the woman drove for several more blocks before pulling over to the side. The officer alleged that his first impression of the woman was that she smelled of alcohol and appeared disoriented.
When questioned, the woman also admitted that she had consumed perhaps as many as five beers that evening. The officer than administered a field sobriety test to the woman, with reportedly poor performance results. Although the woman refused to take a breath test, that refusal was likely reported to jurors.
Considering the other testimony about the woman’s allegedly visible intoxication — as well as her own admission to drinking, which typically is admissible evidence not considered hearsay — the jurors may have drawn a negative inference from the woman’s withholding of consent. In any event, the woman received a one-year probation sentence and a $750 fine. In addition, her sentence requires her to attend a DWI rehabilitation class and perform 60 hours of community service.
Source: chron.com, “Fort Bend woman who almost hit police officer guilty in DWI,” Robert Stanton, June 26, 2013
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