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Criminal Practice — DWI – Probable Cause – Asleep at the Wheel

Criminal Practice — DWI – Probable Cause – Asleep at the Wheel

A police officer found defendant asleep at a traffic light in a vehicle with its motor running. It took multiple attempts to wake defendant, who (1) appeared groggy, (2) emitted a moderate to strong smell of alcohol, (3) eventually admitted to drinking, (4) failed several roadside sobriety tests, (5) swayed throughout the encounter, and (6) had a positive result for alcohol on two consecutive portable breath tests. There were adequate indicia of impairment for officers to suspect that defendant was appreciably impaired.

We find no error in defendant’s conviction for driving while impaired.

Admittedly, defendant passed an alphabet and numbers test, did not have bloodshot eyes, had no alcohol containers in the car, spoke without slurring, and was overall polite and cooperative. However, even though there were some indications that defendant might not have been impaired, when looking at the totality of the circumstances, the many factors indicating impairment gave the officers probable cause to arrest defendant.

State v. Morrow (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-245-21, 6 pp.) (Chris Dillon, J.) Appealed from Alamance County Superior Court (Rebecca Holt, J.) Regina Cucurullo for the state; Ben Irons for defendant. 2021-NCCOA-388


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