Columbus DUI 101: Super Bowl watchers learn about drunk driving in public service ad

Using his DUI arrests and conviction to help others, Bruce Smith, a former Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins legend and NFL Hall of Fame defensive end, is appearing in a Super Bowl public service ad this Sunday to speak about his 2010 conviction for drunk driving and his previous DUI arrests.

Smith was busted for DUI three times in his NFL career, an all-time record for a Redskins defensive end. In the ad, Smith urges viewers to: “Please, learn from my story and make sure a safe ride home is also part of your game plan.” What can Columbus viewers learn from Smith’s DUI arrests? The answer is clear: If you are impaired, then (1) don’t take the standard field sobriety tests, and (2) don’t submit to an alcohol test. The reason is this: without results from field sobriety tests and alcohol testing there is less evidence of intoxication.

Without those test results, it quite simply becomes much harder to convict you of DUI. In 2010, Smith pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in exchange for an agreed $1,000.00 fine and 90-day suspended sentence. Smith refused a breath test but did poorly on field sobriety tests. His lawyer argued that Smith was wobbly because of old football injuries, but the video of Smith’s field sobriety tests was apparently too much to overcome.

This was Smith’s third DUI arrest. In 1997, a DUI charge was dismissed for lack of evidence. And in 2003, a jury acquitted him in a second DUI case. Smith was in the NFL for 19 seasons, played in 279 games, sacked the quarterback 200 times, and forced 46 fumbles, 15 of which he recovered, and one of which he returned for a touchdown.

He was chosen All-Pro Defensive End 9 times, and was twice chosen NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The facts surrounding Smith’s three DUI arrests show that if a driver is impaired and stopped by the police, then the smart thing to do is to politely refuse to take the standard field sobriety tests and to refuse any breath, urine, or blood alcohol tests. Without the results from those tests, a DUI attorney will be much better equipped to defend the drunk driving charge.

Smith’s first arrest for DUI was in 1997. He was arrested in his hometown of Virginia Beach after police found him slumped down and sleeping in the driver’s seat of his car with the engine running. He was at an intersection, and in the middle of a busy traffic lane. Smith refused a breath test, and also declined field sobriety tests.

Because there were no alcohol test results, and no evidence of intoxication resulting from field sobriety tests, the police elected to dismiss the case rather than proceed to trial. Smith’s decision not to take the standard field sobriety tests or submit to a breath alcohol test paid off big time. In 2003, Smith was arrested a second time for DUI in Virginia Beach after being stopped for speeding. Smith proceeded to trial and was found not guilty of the drunk driving charge.

In 2009, Smith was arrested for the third time in Virginia Beach, but this time he agreed to submit to field sobriety tests. Smith’s defense attorney argued that his poor performance on the tests resulted not only from knee injuries, but from his client’s multiple concussions suffered during the 19 seasons he played in the NFL.

Smith was awaiting a second trial in this case in 2010, when he decided to plead guilty to the DUI charge in exchange for the agreed sentence of probation with no jail time. Smith said he decided to enter into the plea agreement to “take ownership of that evening.” The moral of Smith’s story is this: when in doubt refuse to submit to the officer’s standard field sobriety tests. Without those test results, as Smith’s record shows, there is less evidence of impairment, and a much greater chance for a favorable result at trial.

That is what happened in Smith’s 1997 DUI case when the prosecutor was forced to dismiss the drunk driving charge due to a lack of evidence.

Attorneys in our Columbus law firm have a proven record defending DUI cases not only in Columbus but across Ohio. For more information about how you can best defend a DUI charge, call one of our Columbus DUI defense attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation.

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