Experienced Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys frequently have to attack officers' claims that slurred speech meant that suspects were drunk. Officers generally regard slurred speech as an objective sign of intoxication. But fatigue, certain mental and physical conditions, and some prescription medications might also cause slurred speech.
A thorough Chicago DUI Defense could point out that in addition, some drinkers are better than others at physically and mentally compensating for the effects of alcohol intoxication. So a heavy drinker might actually appear less intoxicated, based on his speech, than a novice drinker unused to coping with the effects of alcohol.
Research studies show that descriptions of a suspect's speech as slurred might be more subjective than objective. In other words, an officer's perception of slurred speech does not necessarily provide a valid indicator of whether or not you were impaired.
In one study testing whether people could determine a subject's degree of alcohol intoxication from their speech, the subjects were asked to speak under differing levels of intoxication and different conditions. The test subjects included light, moderate, and heavy drinkers. They spoke at several different times. The different times consisted of a learning phase, a time when sober, and at four differing BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) levels.
Generally speaking, the test subjects did reveal significant changes in their speech as their BACs increased. But about one out of five subjects (20%) exhibited no changes in speech. As such, the study's authors cautioned that slurred speech could not be viewed as an accurate or reliable indicator of intoxication or BAC level. Your Chicago DUI Defense might mention that these researchers documented the inadequacy of using slurred speech as a means to determine intoxication.
Another study had actors simulate both sober and slurred speech under differing conditions: when sober, when intoxicated, and at peak BAC levels. The listeners were asked to judge which utterances by the actors were made while the actors were actually intoxicated. Listeners most frequently (88% of the time) said that the actors were intoxicated when the actors were actually sober and simulating slurred speech than when they were actually intoxicated. A careful Chicago DUI Defense might bring up study results that clearly show the true subjectivity of the listener in trying to distinguish intoxication levels from "slurred" speech.
In a similar study, the listeners rated the actors as sounding less intoxicated than they actually were about 61% of the time. In other words, in both studies, the listeners were completely wrong about the speaker's intoxication level as judged by their speech MOST of the time (form 61% to 88% of the time). These studies show just how unreliable the perception of slurred speech can be as an indicator for making a determination about a person's intoxication.
Indeed, many researchers disagree that slurred speech and changes in speech characteristics provide evidence of intoxication, particularly at low levels. In a study that evaluated specific speech parameters using statistical analysis, the researchers concluded that on the basis of the test results, trying to use acoustic analysis in forensic medicine to recognize low-levels of alcohol intoxication was ineffective.
Your Illinois DUI Defense Attorney could present some evidence regarding the studies discussed previously to show that an officer's perception of slurred speech does not provide a reliable indicator of your BAC level. By careful questioning, he could also elicit testimony that would tend to show that your speech was not actually as slurred as the officer claims.
For instance your Illinois DUI Defense Attorney could go through the responses that the officer says you provided to his questions on the day of your arrest. Your attorney could close your Chicago DUI Defense by pointing out that your speech likely was not all that slurred since the officer said he understood all of your responses to his questions.
Your Illinois DUI Defense Attorney could also question other witnesses about the sound of your speech when you were charged with DUI. These are people who would have heard your speech at around the same time as the arresting officer. They could include people who were with you in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, people who spoke with you just before you got behind the wheel, or other witnesses to your arrest. And if you called someone from jail after your arrest and there's a voice mail recording of your speech, the recording could provide an objective indicator of the quality of your speech at the time of your arrest.
The bottom line is that an officer's perception of slurred speech is not as good an indicator of intoxication as he thinks it is. And an adept and knowledgeable Illinois DUI Defense Attorney like Michael P. Schmiege could make the jury clearly understand that.
Contact Michael Schmeige today for your FREE, no obligation case evaluation consultation. He could review your case with you and the officer's bases for making the DUI charge, and help you understand your available legal options and the actual strengths in your defense. Don't let a DUI charge take you down when a solid Chicago DUI Defense could provide your key to a favorable jury verdict. (312) 906-7800
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