ORANGE COUNTY'S "BEST" DUI DEFENSE LAWYERS RATED BY SUPER LAWYERS, ORANGE COUNTY'S "TOP-RATED" DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
What Are Objective Symptoms of Intoxication?
OBJECTIVE SIGNS OF INTOXICATION
Regarding the Objective Signs of Intoxication, or "OSI"s as they are commonly referred to in law enforcement, are observations of either intoxication or impairment. The terms are used almost interchangeably and they refer to the most commonly observed signs of intoxication or impairment, such as the odor of alcohol or the odor of a drug, bloodshot and/or watery eyes, slurred or unusual speech patterns, such as slow speech, and an unsteady gait, which is the inability to stand or walk in a steady or straight manner.
CAN AN EXPERIENCED DUI ATTORNEY CHALLENGE THESE SYMPTOMS?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), objective symptoms of intoxication, (even poor driving in many circumstances), are insufficient to prove impairment or that a person has a blood alcohol concentration of 08% or more.
Additionally, some alleged objective signs of intoxication or impairment can be caused by factors other than impairment.
ODOR OF ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS
Regarding the odor of alcohol and/or drugs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has even conceded that the odor of alcohol and/or drugs only denotes that the person consumed alcohol and/or drugs, not that this means the person was impaired by the alcohol and/or drug or drugs consumed or that the person was at or above 0.08% where alcohol consumption is concerned. Because it only supports the conclusion that the person consumed alcohol and/or drugs, it's mere presence does not establish impairment and/or the existence of a breath and/or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater.
BLOODSHOT / WATERY EYES
For instance, nearly every person who wears contacts knows that they will likely have bloodshot and/or watery eyes after hours of wearing their contacts. Additionally, if a person stays up longer than they are accustomed, they will likely have bloodshot and/or watery eyes. It is for this reason that we often call late night flights "red-eye" flights. Simply put, some of the objective signs of intoxication, particularly bloodshot and/or watery eyes, can have sources other than alcohol and/or drug consumption.
Regarding slurred speech, the presence of slurred speech is consistent with a person who may be impaired; but it is not necessarily so just as the absence of slurred speech does not necessarily mean that the person is not still otherwise impaired. Whether it is or is not consistent is a factor to be considered under the totality of the observations and/or other indications of impairment.
Regarding an unsteady gait, like slurred speech, the existence of an unsteady gait is consistent with a person who is impaired. That said, the existence of an unsteady gait can be caused by other factors as well, such as poor balancing traits, clumsiness or nervous ticks when considering the person is the subject of a DUI Investigation.
A person who has beck, leg and/or hip problems may often walk and/or stand with an unsteady gait. It does not mean that this person is impaired as it could just mean that the person's medical condition gives the person the appearance that he or she has an unsteady gait. The distinction can be significant depending on the circumstances of the DUI Investigation.