If you are charged with DUI or APC in Oklahoma, it is almost guaranteed that the arresting officer will indicate on the police report that he or she smelled an “odor of alcohol” on your person, your breath or in your vehicle. In fact, the DUI report used by Oklahoma police contains three options regarding alcohol odor: “weak,” “moderate” and “strong.” There is no option for “none.”
The problem with citing an odor of alcohol as an indication of intoxication is that ethyl alcohol—the kind found in alcoholic beverages—has no odor. The smell associated with alcohol consumption actually comes from the flavorings and other ingredients found in the beverage.
A Stronger Odor Does Not Equal a Higher BAC
Many people—including some law enforcement agents—wrongly assume that the stronger a person smells of alcohol, the higher his or her BAC or blood alcohol content. This assumption is completely unfounded.
The fact is beverages typically lower in alcohol content, such as beer and wine, generally produce much stronger odors than drinks with higher alcohol concentrations like vodka, scotch and whiskey.
Defending the Odor of Alcohol in Court
It is highly unlikely that police will stop citing the supposed odor of alcohol when establishing reasonable suspicion of impaired and intoxicated driving. This does not, however, mean that it will hold up in court.
It is not illegal to drink and drive in Oklahoma. It is only illegal if you are under the influence of alcohol or are over the legal limit. An odor of alcoholic beverage only indicates consumption and not quantity.
Our attorneys can examine all the evidence cited by the officer—from the reasonable suspicion required to initiate the traffic stop to the probable cause needed to justify your arrest—and build a defense that systematically addresses each point, including the “odor of alcohol.”
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