Recently a 23-year old was arrested by a police officer for intoxicated driving in Eugene, Oregon. According to the woman, she only drank one beer at a friend’s birthday party and used no drugs.
Police reports show that throughout the sobriety tests, the driver was unsteady on her feet, and had red eyes and dilated pupils. Upon arrest, the driver was taken to the police department for a breath test.
The test results supported her claim. The ordered tests revealed the driver had a blood alcohol content of only .01 percent. Her tests also showed that there was no trace of drugs in her system on the night of the arrest.
According to the police, they had probable cause to arrest the driver because she was driving erratically, and because she also failed some of the field sobriety tests conducted by two different officers. In fact, one officer suspected that the driver was on marijuana, although the urinalysis tests proved otherwise.
The female driver, who recently graduated from the University of Oregon, disputed the DUI charge in Municipal Court. Prosecutors also decided to dismiss the case, as there was no proof of the allegation beyond reasonable doubt.
Under Oregon law, it is illegal for individuals to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content limit of 0.08 or higher. An individual may also be convicted of driving while intoxicated if he or she is found to be noticeably physically or mentally affected due to any combination of alcohol and drugs, regardless of his or her blood alcohol level. For the Alaska native, however, it was neither of these cases.
According to a city prosecutor, the police officers did not treat the driver improperly, and were simply doing what they needed to do. An officer simply stopped the driver’s vehicle after seeing it was crossing a bicycle lane and speeding.
When the arresting officer found that the result was inconsistent with the initial observations, he called in a drug recognition expert to check for drug use. According to the specialist certified by the state, the driver was under the influence of marijuana.
Although the female driver disclosed that the smoked pot occasionally, she stated that she hadn’t used drugs in a little over a week.
The arresting officer admitted that the case was an unusual one. After all, it isn’t very often that an individual is impaired with a blood alcohol content of .01 percent, and without the use of prescription or illegal drugs.
The driver felt that maybe her frustration and insistence of her not being stoned or drunk may have worked against her. She was, however, not jailed. She hailed a taxi home from the police department that same evening, and then paid a $250 impounding fee to get back her car. Although the charge for intoxicated driving was entirely dismissed, she did plead guilty to crossing into a bicycle lane and had to pay a fine of $200.
According to an attorney in Eugene working as a public defender in Municipal Court, when it comes to investigating potential intoxicated drivers, some police officers appeared to be more ambitious than the others. The attorney states that there’s nothing unusual or new about prosecutors filing charges in driving cases that do not involve the use of drugs.
DUI in Minnesota
In Minnesota, a first time or fourth-degree DUI is considered a misdemeanor, and may result in a maximum of 90 days behind bars and/or a $1,000 fine. A second-degree DUI and a third-degree DUI are both deemed gross misdemeanors, and carry maximum sentences of one year in jail and/or a fine of $3,000. A first-degree DUI is considered a felony, and carries a maximum sentence of up to 7 years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine.
An experienced Minnesota DUI attorney, however, may be able to negotiate for alternative options to prison, such as community work, staggered sentencing, or electronic home monitoring. If you are charged with DUI in the state of Minnesota, call the Kans Law Firm, LLC at (952) 835-6314 for a free consultation and case evaluation.