Why was a driver stinking of alcohol released from a field sobriety test?
(Long Beach, CA)
I was involved in a collision and called 911. I was asked by the operator that answered my call if there are any injured, I answered no, but said my leg hurts. She said police do not come into the scene if no one is badly injured. So I said okay.
Then the person involved with me in the collision walked closer and I smelled alcohol. He made a call also and I overheard him saying he was in a car accident.
As he was close to me I called 911 again, stating to the operator that alcohol was involve in the collision, and to please send a police car. I said I could smell he was drunk.
Before I finished taking to the operator, the police arrived. The cop talked to the guy and walked away, then came back to do the sobriety test. After a few steps I heard the driver say he was not drunk. He was stinking of alcohol on his breath but still replied he was not drunk, saying he may have had a drink but wasn't drunk. So the police let him go!
This guy did not stop at a stop sign and as a result a collision happened. Also, initially he tried to leave to scene. I followed him for a bit and then he stopped and exited the car, at that time I smelled the alcohol. I honestly think the call he made was to the cop and that they know each other.
Is there any way to figure this out? What can be done if they were friends and because of that the cop let him go for drinking and driving? This whole thing doesn't seem right. Is there anything I can do?
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ANSWER for "Why was a driver stinking of alcohol released from a field sobriety test?":
Millie (Long Beach, CA):
Whether the police officer was friends with the other driver or not may not be an issue. As long as the police officer determined the driver passed the field sobriety test and was therefore not impaired or intoxicated, there's not a whole lot you can do.
It's not illegal to drink and drive. It's illegal to be impaired or intoxicated and drive. You can certainly contact the police chief and relay your concerns about whether the officer and the operator of the car are friends. It will then be up to the chief or the internal affairs department to determine if there was any collusion.
Unless the officer has previous cases of impropriety, or there is additional evidence supporting your claim of collusion, you probably won't succeed in your claim of collusion between the operator of the car and the officer.
Contact your insurance company and tell them exactly what happened. It's their job to sort it all out. Tell them how you feel about the driver smelling of alcohol. That may be used in your favor.
Get a copy of the police report. In it there should be a notation by the police officer that he suspected intoxication or impairment and as a result administered a field sobriety test. That information alone may help your claim.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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