If you are stopped by police in Jacksonville, Florida, or anywhere else for that matter, and are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, here is a good example of how you would not want to handle that police encounter. Charles Barkley is famous mainly for two things- he was one of the best professional basketball players in the 1980’s and 1990’s and he was, and continues to be, one of the most outspoken athletes and former athletes. The former characteristic can, at times, get people out of trouble, but the latter characteristic is rarely helpful during a police encounter, particularly when a police officer suspects a person of driving under the influence of alcohol (referred to as a DUI or DWI).
In the early morning hours on New Year’s Eve, Barkley was stopped after a police officer reportedly saw him roll through a stop sign. When the police officer activated his emergency lights, Barkley stopped in the road rather than pulling over to the side of the road. The police officer approached Barkley and said he detected an odor of alcohol and observed that Barkley’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. The police officer asked Barkley if he had been drinking, and Barkley said, “A couple.” The police officer asked Barkley if he would submit to field sobriety tests, and Barkley agreed. The police officer determined that Barkley failed those tests. Barkley also reportedly told the officer that he was in a hurry to meet a girl for oral sex. After the discussion with Barkley and the field sobriety tests, the police officer arrested Barkley for DUI.
Barkley messed up this police DUI encounter in several ways. Keep in mind that everything Barkley did and said that the police officer or the prosecutor believes is evidence that he was impaired by alcohol will be used against Barkley in court. When the police officer engaged his emergency lights, Barkley should have pulled over off of the road rather than in the road. People should know that it is unsafe to stop in the road, and the police and prosecutor will say that his failure to pull over off of the road is a sign of poor judgment, which is a factor in determining if a person is impaired.
A person stopped for DUI should not give evidence to the police officer by telling him/her that he/she has been drinking or how many drinks he/she has had. There is no benefit to a person stopped for DUI to talk to the officer about any drinking that he/she has been doing. There is also no benefit to telling the police officer you are in a hurry to get oral sex at 1:30 in the morning, particularly when you are married as I believe Barkley is. Finally, the field sobriety tests that Barkley submitted to will typically only be used as evidence against a person suspected of DUI. The results of those tests are subjective. In other words, a person suspected of DUI fails those tests if the police officer says so. A suspect may think he/she performed the test correctly, but the officer may decide the tests were failed because they were not done perfectly or in the exact manner the officer expected even though the explanation as to how the tests were to be performed was not thorough.
Basically, when Barkley ran the stop sign, he did something that millions of perfectly sober drivers do every day. Running a stop sign is certainly not evidence of committing a DUI. However, many of the things that Barkley did afterwards can be used against him to support a DUI charge. Failing to pull over properly, telling the officer he had been drinking, talking about being in a hurry to get oral sex, submitting to the field sobriety exams- Barkley did not have to do any of this and could have just requested to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with DUI investigations and prosecutions who could properly advise him. If he had done so, the police and the prosecutor would have had less evidence to work with when arresting and prosecuting him for DUI.