A Delaware judge acquitted long-time ABC news anchor Sam Donaldson of his drunk driving charge, reports Delaware Online.
The judge ruled that the police did not have probable cause in arresting the 79-year-old Donaldson. Given his age, Donaldson argued that police had him perform field sobriety tests that were inappropriate for someone that old. For example, it was stated that certain roadside balance tests are not meant for people older than 65 because an elderly person may have trouble completing that task regardless of intoxication. Judge Rosemary B. Beauregard sided with the defense and found that the records of the traffic arrest were "spotty" and full of errors.
Generally, authorities need to have probable cause or a reasonable belief that a driver is intoxicated to make a DUI stop and arrest. In the case of suspected drunk driving, an officer can probable cause to support a DUI arrest with:
- Evidence of erratic driving such as weaving in and out of traffic, speeding or driving below the speed limit, and frequent braking.
- Failed field sobriety test such as an inability to walk a straight line or failed horizontal gaze test.
- Physical signs of impairment like smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech.
- Blood alcohol limit above the legal amount.
If an officer does not have probable cause to make the stop or arrest, a DUI defendant may have the charges thrown out as was the case with Sam Donaldson.
Individuals who have been charged with drunk driving in the Seattle or King County areas should know that there may be a viable defense to your DUI charge. DUI defenses are fact-specific and you will want to discuss the details of your case with an experienced attorney. To fight your DUI charge, contact an attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense by calling 425-284-2000.