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4/27/2007 - Posted by:
Phone: 612-240-8005
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Officer Fails to Make Observation Sufficient to Conduct Field Sobriety Tests POSTED: 9:29 a.m. CST April 24, 2007

BLOOMINGTON- A Bloomington Law enforcement officer stopped a vehicle after it entered interstate 494 when the vehicle failed to signal its lane change and crossed over a lane line. The driver stopped his vehicle immediately on the shoulder and was identified as John Halzinger. While speaking with Mr. Halzinger, the officer detected what he described as "an odor consistent with an alcoholic beverage." Based on that scent, the officer asked Mr. Halzinger to step from the vehicle and perform a variety of field sobriety tests including the walk and turn, one leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). Finally, the officer had Mr. Halzinger provide a preliminary breath test (PBT) which registered in excess of .08 and placed him under arrest.

At trial, attorney Maury D. Beaulier cross examined the officer with regard to his reasonable belief that Mr. Halzinger was intoxicated. Mr. Beaulier asked the officer if he understood that alcohol, in its pure form, has no aroma. After conceding that point, the officer also acknowledged that a scent consistent with an alcoholic beverage could be consistent with non-alcoholic beverages as well including near beers, virgin daiquiries and other similar beverages. Mr. Beaulier also noted that the officer failed to include any observations that Mr. Halzinger displayed a lack of dexterity when presenting his license and registration or a lack of balance when exiting his vehicle. Similarly lacking were any observations that the driver had a flushed face, watery or bloodshot eyes or slurred speech.

At the conclusion of the trial, Mr. Beaulier argued that the officer lacked a reasonable, articulable suspicion that Mr. Halzinger was intoxicated and, as a result, did not have the requisite basis to proceed with field sobriety tests or any breath testing. After a deliberation, the court agreed and Mr. Halzinger's license revocation was rescinded and his license reinstated. The criminal case for DWI was similarly dismissed.

For legal representation call 612.240.8005 or visit http://www.dwicounsel.com/

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