Ferris v. State, 355 Md. 356 (1999)
One of the key points of analysis of the defense of a drunk driving case is whether the officer had the legal right to "request" the driver to exit the car to continue the investigation of whether the driver was impaired by alcohol. Once removed from the car, the driver is asked to perform coordination exercises, referred to as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. If the driver does not perform these exercises to the police officer's satisfaction, the driver will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and related charges.
In the Ferris case, I successfully argued to Maryland's highest Court, the Court of Appeals, that the police officer's decision to remove Mr. Ferris from his car was illegal. The result was that evidence seized from Mr. Ferris was suppressed and his conviction was reversed.
In a DUI case, if a reviewing court determines that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to remove the driver from the car, the judge should grant a defense attorney's motion to suppress any evidence that occurred after the illegal removal from the car. Generally , this includes the performance on field sobriety tests, any subsequent statements made by the driver, and any breath or blood alcohol concentration tests. Without this evidence, the State's case against the driver is usually insufficient to secure a conviction for DUI and a motion for acquittal is subsequently granted to these charges.
This is an example of how important it is to have an attorney who understands your rights under the United States Constitution and the knowledge as to how to assert those rights in trial.