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Is an odor enough to arrest you for DUI?

| Oct 25, 2017 | Criminal Defense |

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Cook County, DuPage County or elsewhere in the Chicago metro area, chances are that the police report accompanying the charges indicates that the arresting officer smelled an “odor of alcohol” emanating from the driver, which likely gave the officer probable cause to ask you to perform a few field sobriety tests.

The “odor of alcohol” claim is very common by law enforcement, but it begs the question of what alcohol really smells like. According to statements on the website alcoholrehab.com, alcohol does not have a smell on its own. In fact, the beverages that have the most alcohol content (e.g. vodka, gin) do not have an odor unless they are flavored with something. 

Additionally, a driver who has had a drink may have alcohol on their breath, but that by itself does not indicate how much alcohol a driver has in their system, or how long ago they had a drink, and most importantly, if the driver is impaired.

Because of this, it may be necessary to question an officer’s observations if they only suggest that he or she merely smelled alcohol on your breath before being ordered to perform field sobriety tests; especially considering that these tests are commonly used to further an officer’s suspicions that a driver is impaired, and not to clear a driver of wrongdoing.  If an officer’s observations can be proven to be untrue or incomplete, it may be enough to invalidate their reasons for arresting you.

The preceding is not legal advice. If you have questions about your situation, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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