Washington State Laws and Michael Phelps DUI
It has been reported that early morning Monday; Phelps was stopped for traveling 84 miles per hour in a 45 zone. Police were quoted saying, he “was unable to perform satisfactorily a series of standard field sobriety tests. Police also said that Phelps was cooperative, and some sources are suggesting that Phelps’ breath alcohol concentration was twice the legal limit. Apparently, Phelps was convicted of a prior DUI in 2004.
Obviously this case is going to be a highly publicized DUI arrest, but let’s apply the information we have to Washington DUI laws.
First, look at the stop. Speeding nearly 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will get you pulled over every time. Clearly, drinking and driving was the first mistake, but speeding is just asking to be pulled over. However, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 24 cues that are good predictors that someone is driving impaired. Some will be surprised to learn that speeding is not one of them.
Second, we examine the arrest. Although, we have very little information; let’s focus on the “series of standard tests.” These tests are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). They include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN, or eye) test, the Walk and Turn (WAT) test and the One Leg Stand test (OLS). These tests are meant to be instructed and graded in a standardized manner and not following such standards will invalidate the tests. In Washington these tests, including the roadside breath test are voluntary and seldom should one agree to participate. The SFSTs are an opportunity for the police officer to gather evidence against you. Think about it, a world class multiple gold medal winning Olympic athlete was unable to perform them “satisfactorily.” One source even says he “bombed” them. So, how well do you think you would do, sober or not? Read more