6th District Holds There Was Reasonable Suspicion to Detain for Field Sobriety Testing, But Does Not Explain Why - DUI News - 10/21/2016

Odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes might be enough to detain for field sobriety testing in the 6th District.

State v. Brugnone, 2016 Ohio 6964 (6th Dist.).


September 23, 2016

An officer observed Brugnone's car stopped on the road with two people beside it.  When the officer caught up to Brugnone, he was driving.  The officer stopped Brugnone and asked if there was a problem.  Brugnone explained that the two passengers in his car had been drinking and he picked them up to take them to a nearby Meijer.  The officer reported smelling a strong odor of alcohol, that Brugnone had bloodshot eyes, and that his speech was slurred.  She detained him to complete field sobriety tests and ultimately arrested him.  He was ultimately convicted of an OVI at the Bowling Green Municipal Court.

Brugnone appealed, arguing that he officer lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him for the field sobriety testing.  He argued that he had not committed a traffic offense, the odor of alcohol was coming from the passengers, that his bloodshot eyes were explained by the late hour of the traffic stop, and that he had not slurred.

The Sixth District concluded that it was debatable whether he had slurred as observed by the dash cam.  Strangely, the Sixth District cryptically held that there was a sufficient basisto detain, but was entirely unclear whether it was holding that the strong odor of alcohol by itself was enough, whether odor and blood shot eyes was enough, or whether odor with bloodshot eyes and slurred speech was enough.    Here is what it stated:

While it may be debated whether or not Brugnone's speech was "slurred," only Trooper Malone can say what she smelled and what she saw. What she described, if believed, provided a sufficient basis for her to pursue an OVI investigation.