Florida DUI Law 101: Do Police Officer’s Observations have Evidentiary Value?

I have read thousands of police reports on DUI cases and the one thing that I see on every case is the “check the box” approach to DUI investigations used by so many cops.

The same laundry list of police observations on every DUI case. So this practice must beg the question?

If they are just checking boxes, do these observations have any evidentiary value?

Maybe a better question is should they have any evidentiary value to a judge or jury?

I would propose that every DUI Defense Attorney object to an officer reading from their report in every stage in a proceeding.

It doesn’t matter if it is at a DMV formal review, motion hearing, sworn deposition, or jury trial.

The officer must be required to be able to independently recall and articulate the legal basis for the DUI arrest without simply reading from their report that is largely a pre-written template.

An attorney that is doing their job, forces the officer to remember and testify from their memory without all the assistance.

This proves too difficult for many officers to do on an individual case because they cannot recall or differentiate their actual observations–apart from the checklist.

The list of DUI officer observations, itself, amounts to a nearly inexhaustible list of every conceivable, remotely possible reason to think someone might be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but also for reasons that have nothing to do with DUI.

The DUI List Of Reasons Includes

  • Unusual Actions
  • Sleeping in Vehicle
  • Could Not Locate License and Registration in a Timely Manner
  • Misplaced Paperwork or Documents
  • Nervousness or Laughing
  • Irritable or Argumentative
  • Belligerent or Profane
  • Indifferent or Apologetic
  • Overly Cooperative
  • Crying or Emotional
  • Swaying while Standing
  • Leaning on Vehicle
  • Eyes: Glassy, Bloodshot, Watery, Large Pupils
  • Face: Red, Flushed
  • Speech: Accent, Mumbling, Deliberate, Stuttering
  • Odor of Alcohol
  • Breath: Chewing gum or Attempting to Conceal
  • Appropriateness of Clothing or Attire

The list, in most cases is admissible through the officer’s testimony.

The only one that is remotely relevant is odor of alcohol, but even then, odor alone does not give an officer probable cause to arrest an individual for Driving under the influence.

That is why it is critical for your attorney to be able to dissect this list and point to its shortcomings, flaws, and oversights—especially during the questioning and cross-examination of the investigating officer.