Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Weare, NH Officer Daniel Aiken’s roadside sobriety test incorrectly flags sober driver as a drunk

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Case: HUDSON v. TOWN OF WEARE, Civil No. 11-cv-90-JL (D. New Hampshire, November 16, 2012)


At the time he arrested Hudson, Aiken had observed several things— undisputed by Hudson—that, in conjunction, justified a belief that she had committed a crime by driving while under the influence of some controlled substance:
• she gave him a Visa debit card instead of her license;
• she was slurring her speech;
• her eyelids were droopy and her pupils constricted;
• while walking to the sobriety test area, her steps were halting and her coordination poor;
• during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, she “nodded off” and her body swayed noticeably;
• while Aiken was instructing her how to perform the walk-and-turn test, she held out her arms “airplane fashion” for balance and fell out of the “Instructional Position” twice;
• she missed heel-to-toe on every step in the walk-and-turn test, stepped off the line five times, and again used her arms for balance; and
• she swayed side to side more than six inches during the one leg stand test, used her arms for balance, and hopped three times to maintain balance.

Decision: As breath, urine and blood tests all showed, the plaintiff had no drugs or alcohol in her system. Judge Joseph N. LaPlante decided that it was not a problem that the roadside test failed in what it was designed to do. For whatever reason, he was more concerned that plaintiff filed a 34 page brief, rather than a 25 page one.

Written by Burgers Allday

November 21, 2012 at 7:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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