A star basketball player for the University of Connecticut was facing a serious impediment to his athletic career with a recent arrest for DUI and driving without a license.
However, as our Alabama DUI defense lawyers have learned, the DUI charge was dropped when the player pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving without a license.
The primary reason that Olander beat the charge was that the breathalyzer test returned results showing his blood-alcohol level was under 0.08 percent. One might ask how he could have then been arrested on the charge in the first place.
The answer has to do with the fact that breathalyzer test results (or even blood-alcohol test results) are only one piece of evidence in a larger case that prosecutors must build.
While a breathalyzer test showing a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is strong evidence, it’s not above a possible challenge. Similarly, a blood-alcohol level of less than 0.08 percent is going to hurt a prosecutor’s case, but it won’t shut it down altogether.
First of all, there is the possibility that you could be deemed under the influence of some substance other than alcohol – in which case it would make sense that your blood-alcohol level would be below the legal limit, and yet you are displaying behaviors that would make it seem you are not in a position to safely operate a vehicle.
Proving intoxication due to drugs as opposed to alcohol is trickier as there is no defined threshold of consumption that will determine how impaired you are. However, it’s not impossible.
But even if the only thing you are suspected of consuming is alcohol and your blood-alcohol level is less than 0.08 percent, you might still be charged with DUI. For one thing, those under 21 only get a pass up to 0.02 percent, at which point they are deemed impaired. For commercial drivers, the threshold is 0.04 percent.
All other drivers are held to the 0.08 percent standard, but if you display other symptoms of intoxication or impairment, an officer can still arrest you for DUI. Granted, it will be a weaker case (as this example with Olander shows), but it’s not an impossible one to make.
What Alabama Code 32-5A-191 says is that in order to secure a DUI conviction, prosecutors have to prove that you either:
–Had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent;
–Were under the influence of alcohol;
–Were under the influence of any substance which would impair your physical or mental capacity to such a point that you are rendered incapable of safely driving.
The definition of “under the influence” is an ambiguous one. Using a combination of evidence that includes your alleged driving behavior, your interaction with the officer and your performance on field sobriety tests, an officer can still decide that your mental state was sufficiently impaired as to render you incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.
In Olander’s case, he was reportedly pulled over by an officer who noted he made several “jerky steering maneuvers” while driving on a highway. He subsequently failed a field sobriety test, but he passed two breathalyzer tests (which goes to show the overall infallibility of sobriety tests).
The officer arrested him anyway. He was suspended from the team.
With the DUI charge now dropped, he hopes to rejoin his teammates on the court.
DUI Charges Against Tyler Olander Dropped, Sept. 23, 2013, By David Borges, New Haven Register
More Blog Entries:
Birmingham DUI Lawyer: Safe Labor Day, Whatever Your Drink of Pleasure, Sept. 2, 2013, Birmingham DUI Lawyer Blog