Our legal system recognizes the importance of the presumption of innocence for people accused, but not convicted, of a crime. Accusations are allegations, and the media uses the term "alleged" profusely in a kind of recognition of the presumption.
Many news reports covering an alleged drunk driving story will provide some details surrounding the traffic stop, an officer's observations at the time of the stop and other factors. Generally, an officer may describe a person's performance on field sobriety tests that are relayed from the arrest report through to the media. But is poor performance on a field sobriety test a slam dunk indicator of impairment?
Hampton police recently dropped DUI charges against a former Hampton state representative. The former lawmaker was arrested on suspicion of DUI in early January. Law enforcement made a traffic stop around 12:30 a.m. January 3 near Hampton Academy. Police claim that a headlight was not working-- leading to the late night/early morning routine stop.
The officer grew suspicious that the former lawmaker may have been under the influence. The officer apparently requested the driver to perform field sobriety tests, and apparently felt that the former state representative did poorly on those tests. Between the officer's observations and the FST performance, the man was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
The driver reportedly told officers that he had not been drinking before he got behind the wheel. Nonetheless, he was taken in. Law enforcement says that the driver provided a blood sample. Now the results are in, and the blood test reportedly shows that the man had no alcohol or drugs in his system. The accused was scheduled to appear for arraignment January 13. Prosecutors dropped the DUI charges.
Source: Seacoast Online, "Police drop DWI charge against former rep," Patrick Cronin, Feb. 13, 2013