Having Just a "Small" Odor of Alcohol Does Not Eliminate Reasonable Suspicion of Impaired Driving

Numerous factors indicating impairment give trooper reasonable suspicion to prolong traffic stop even though he only detected a "small" odor of alcohol.

State v. Lewis, 2017-Ohio-996 (3d Dist.)


March 20, 2017

A state trooper observed testified that he prolonged a traffic stop to conduct field sobriety tests after observed the following of Lewis, the driver of a tractor-trailer: repeated weaving in traffic, slow to respond to police lights, very slurred speech, "small" odor of alcohol, and staggering.

Lewis filed a Motion to Suppress, perhaps motivated by the impact of an OVI on a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) - one-year suspension for first-time conviction and lifetime suspension after second conviction.  The Trial Court denied his motion to suppress and the Third District affirmed, confirming that there were sufficient facts that the trooper had a reasonable, articulable suspicion to continue the traffic stop for purposes of conducting field-sobriety testing.  Likewise, the court found there was probable cause to arrest for an OVI after Lewis displayed multiple clues during field sobriety testing and admitted to alcohol use.