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Christopher Todd Adams

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Can the mere odor of alcohol lead to a DUI?

A police officer who has made a DUI arrest will often say that he or she could smell alcohol on the subject’s breath. They may add other factors that led to the subject’s arrest, like saying that they had bloodshot eyes or were slurring their words. 

What the officer is trying to do is to show that the traffic stop and the subsequent breath test were warranted. If they say they smelled alcohol, that gives them a reason for the DUI charge.

Why this is problematic

There are a few problems with this. First and foremost, studies have shown that it often leads to mistakes. Officers typically can’t tell what type of alcohol they claim to smell. They usually struggle more if the person has been eating. Overall, it’s just not a reliable way to tell if a person has been drinking or not. 

The second problem is that the smell could come from something else. Maybe you’re just transporting a bunch of empty bottles to return them at the store. Your car could smell strongly of alcohol even if you haven’t drunk at all. 

Finally, it’s a claim that the officer can’t even prove. If your case goes to court, the officer can tell the jury that your car smelled like alcohol. You can tell the jury that it did not. They can guess about who they think is telling the truth, but there’s a massive difference between guessing and knowing. 

Your defense options

If you are facing DUI charges, especially in a case where questionable tactics and evidence were used, it’s crucial to know what defense options you have. Don’t let a mistaken drunk driving charge go unchallenged. The consequences to your future are too much to bear unfairly. 

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