Odor of Alcohol Laws In New Hampshire – How to Defend Your DWI Charge
Police Report: “I approached the automobile on the driver’s side and immediately smelled a strong odor of alcohol emanating from the driver.”
There are certain things in life that are guaranteed. The sun will always rise in the morning. Taxes must be paid every year. Everyone will die at some point, and almost every single DWI report in New Hampshire is going to contain a damning statement from the arresting officer that they “detected the odor of alcohol” either coming from the interior of the automobile or directly from the motorist themselves. It is guaranteed that taxes, death, and your NH DWI report repeatedly resounding the phrase “odor of alcohol” are a certainty.
At first glance, the claim to smell the “odor of alcohol” might seem like convincing evidence of guilt and intoxication. One might mistakenly assume that if a person smells like a brewery, then he or she is intoxicated. However, the reality is that the phrase “odor of alcohol” is trash. It says nothing about an individual’s sobriety or their ability to operate an automobile.
Ethyl alcohol itself does not have an odor. What the police officer detects is the actual aroma, which is where a beverage obtains its taste. In general, the alcoholic beverages with the strongest odor, such as wine and beer, are the ones that actually have the least amount of alcohol in them. The strongest alcoholic beverages, such as vodka and scotch, produce a faint, light smell.
What If I Consume Non-Alcoholic Beer?
Commonly referred to as “near beer”, after consuming a near beer, a person will most likely still smell like a brewery. However, despite the strong odor of alcohol coming off of your person, there will be absolutely no alcohol in your system. Alone and by itself, the smell of alcohol does not offer enough reason or probably cause for a law enforcement official to make an arrest for DWI. New Hampshire state law bars impaired driving, not driving after having had had one drink.
“The mere odor of alcohol about a driver’s person….maybe indicia of alcohol ingestion, but it is no more a probable indication of intoxication than eating a meal is of gluttony.” Saucier v. State, 869 P. 2d 483 (1994)
Our New Hampshire DWI lawyers ensure that both the judge and the jury understand that there is no direct correlation between the amount of alcohol that has been consumed and the presence of the odor of alcohol. Simply because one can smell the presence of alcohol, it does not offer any information regarding the form of alcohol consumed (i.e. mixed drinks, wine, beer, etc.), how much alcohol has been consumed, the time during which it was consumed, and over what duration it was consumed, or about what quantity.
How Do I Respond If an Officer Asks If I Have Been Drinking? Or How Much I Have Had to Drink?
It is important for each New Hampshire motorist to know that they are NOT legally required to answer this question. Politely inform the police officer that you are declining his request to answer this possibly incriminating question and that you are requesting to have a New Hampshire DWI attorney present before you decide to answer any more questions.
As soon as you are able, your next step should be to contact an experienced DWI lawyer. This is where our NH DWI attorneys can step in to offer our assistance. With many years of experience defending all types of New Hampshire DWI cases, we can put our expertise to work on your behalf. Contact us today via phone, email, or through our website. Your initial consultation is 100% free.
What Are the Most Common Signs of Intoxication?
How do you determine if a friend or acquaintance has been over served, is simply under the weather, or intoxicated or drunk? Does the fact that their speech might be slurred, their cheeks rosy, or their eyes red offer enough evidence to judge intoxication? Today, we’re going to take a look at the most reliable strategies for determining if someone has had too much drink.
§ Consider the individual’s potential for drunkenness based upon their unique physical characteristics. Alcohol produces similar effects on almost everyone, but the speed at which it does so is based upon physical characteristics. Gender, size, rate of consumption, potential use of drugs, the strength of each drink, and the amount of food a person has had are all factors that need to be considered when deciding how someone has been affected by alcohol.
§ Are their inhibitions being lowered? If a person is beginning to lose control over their actions or is becoming more talkative, then these are some of the first signs of intoxication, especially if he or she is unable to gauge what is acceptable behavior with a particular social context. Louder than normal behavior and mood swings are also potential warning signs.
§ As a person becomes more and more intoxicated, they will begin to progress through increasingly poor stages of judgment. This is defined as inappropriate behaviors that they normally would not engage in if they had not been drinking. Off color jokes, foul language, or overly flirtatious behaviors are some of the first signs of poor judgment. If they decide to start joining in drinking games or their rate of consumption begins to increase, then these could also be potential signs of impairment.
§ Once a person starts to show physical signs of impairment, they should be prevented from consuming any more alcohol. Some of the first signs of physical impairment include clumsy or slow movements, slurred speech, dropping items (like keys, money, or identification), swaying, and forgetting what they were saying in the middle of a sentence. Moving slowly or speaking in a robotic fashion is also possible physical signs of impairment. One of the funnier signs is lighting the wrong end of a cigarette. “Symptoms”, such as red or glassy looking eyes or the presence of an alcoholic odor, are not “visible” symptoms of intoxication, but simply signs that a person has had a few drinks. It is possible that these signs could be symptoms of a medical condition.
§ If a person who has been drinking displays signs of losing motor function or control or poor physical coordination, then they should not be left alone. They could potentially become a danger to others or themselves. Swaying or stumbling, dropping items repeatedly, struggling with correct depth perception, or having difficult grasping physical objects or concepts when speaking are all signs that that person has progressed to this stage.
§ Bear in mind that it is possible for a person to develop a tolerance for alcoholic drinks, but this doesn’t mean they are not legally intoxicated. Visual recognition can be more difficult to discern. For some individuals with a high tolerance for alcohol, counting the number of drinks they have had may be the only option for assessing potential intoxication, but even this option has its own set of problems. If a person’s bodily extremities are red, it could be a potential sign of intoxication, but it’s not a definitive sign. For some people, a single drink can be enough to make them flush.
Remember that, when you trying to determine how intoxicated someone might be, the type of alcohol they have consumed doesn’t make any difference since it has been served in measured doses. If you see a friend or family member who displays any of the aforementioned signs of intoxication, you owe it to them and to yourself to prevent them from consuming more alcohol. Under no circumstances should they be allowed to get behind the wheel of an automobile and drive. By preventing them from doing so, you could just be saving someone’s life.
If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI in the state of New Hampshire, your first step should be to contact an experienced NH DWI lawyer. This is where our firm can help. To set up a free consultation and speak with one of our DWI attorneys, contact us today via telephone, email, or through our website.
DWIs: What Are the Visual Cues Police Officers Look For?
Have you ever wondered what a police officer is looking for when he decides to pull someone over for a suspected DWI?
Researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have devised a list of more than 100 visual cues that have been determined to predict when a motorist has a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. Modern reincarnations of this list have been reduced to just 24 visual cues, and these signs can be placed into one of four different categories:
§ Difficulties in maintaining proper lane positions
§ Braking problems and speeding
§ Judgment difficulties
§ Vigilance problems
The visual cues that fall into each of these categories assist in predicting whether or not a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol. For example, if a police officer notices that a motorist is weaving within their lane or weaving across multiple lane lines, then the probability of DWI is higher than 50%. However, on average, if the police officer notices these weaving clues in addition to other cues discussed below, then the probability of a DWI rises to approximately 65%.
Maintaining Proper Lane Positions
The primary giveaway for DWI motorists is the inability to maintain proper lane position while driving. Most impaired motorists experience considerable difficulty staying within their proper lane. Weaving occurs when an automobile moves alternately towards one side of the lane and then the other. These patterns of lateral movement occur with regular frequency, as one correction to steering is followed closely by another. In the most extreme scenarios, an automobile’s wheels can even cross a lane’s lines before a correction occurs. A police officer may even observe the automobile straddling the center lane. Another powerful visual cue is drifting. This occurs when a vehicle is moving in a fairly straight line, but at a slight angle to the lane’s lines.
Symptoms of difficulty in maintaining proper lane positioning include:
§ Weaving across multiple lane lines
§ Weaving in general
§ Straddling lane lines
§ Almost striking another automobile or an object
§ Drifting during a curve or turning with an overly wide radius
Braking Problems and Speeding
Following proper braking procedures is often a difficult task for an impaired motorist. For example, there is a high probability that a motorist is driving while intoxicated if a police officer observes that they are having difficulties stopping correctly. Visual stopping cues can include:
§ Stopping too far, too short, or in a jerky fashion
§ Accelerating for no apparent reason
§ Varying speeds
§ Slow speeds
Difficulties With Vigilance
Vigilance when driving is defined as a motorist’s ability to notice changes in their surroundings or to pay attention to the task at hand. A motorist who has consumed enough alcohol to become intoxicated will have their vigilance significantly impaired. For example, they might forget to turn on their headlights when it is appropriate. In a similar fashion, intoxicated drivers frequently forget to signal a lane change or turn, or the signal they send might be inconsistent with their actual maneuvering. Vigilance that has been impaired by alcohol can also result in drivers driving into oncoming traffic or turning out of turn in front of other motorists who have the right of way.
The list of visual cues in this category includes:
§ Driving at night without one’s headlights on
§ Failing to signal a lane change or turn or signaling that is inconsistent with one’s actions
§ Turning the wrong direction on a one lane road
§ Responding too slowly to traffic signals
§ Failure to respond or a slow response to a police officer’s signals
§ Stopping in the middle of a lane for no apparent reason
Problems With Judgment
Operating an automobile requires for a motorist to continually make decisions at the spur of the moment. Unfortunately, a person’s ability to make effective judgments can be affected by small amounts of alcohol. For example, judgment impaired by alcohol can cause a motorist to trail another vehicle too closely, stop at an unsafe distance, or taking risks that endanger their lives or the lives of others.
Visual cues in this category include:
§ Following another vehicle too closely
§ Unsafe or improper lane changes
§ Improper turns or illegal turns
§ Driving on another surface besides the designated one
§ Stopping inappropriately in response to an officer’s instructions
§ Unusual or inappropriate behavior
§ Appearing to be intoxicated
Post Traffic Stop Cues
In addition to the aforementioned visual cues, the following cues have been determined to be accurate predictors of driving while intoxicated.
§ Difficulties with automobile controls
§ Trouble exiting the vehicle
§ Fumbling with registration or one’s driver’s license
§ Repeating comments or questions
§ Balance problems or swaying
§ Leaning on the automobile or another object
§ Slurred speech
§ Requiring a police officer to repeat their questions
§ Changing answers or offering incorrect information
§ A smell of alcohol emanating from the driver
If you have been arrested for and charged with a DWI in the state of New Hampshire, then it is imperative for you to hire skilled and experienced legal representation to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. The more quickly you hire a New Hampshire DWI lawyer, the more time he or she will have to analyze your case and prepare the best possible defense.
For a free consultation regarding your case, contact our law offices today.