Was Your DUI Stop the Result of Confirmation Bias?

Was Your DUI Stop the Result of Confirmation Bias?Driving under the influence is a crime, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports about 32 people die every day from alcohol-related car crashes. It does not matter who you are, where you are going, or how many drinks you have had—driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious consequences.

In 2020, over 11,600 people in the United States died from drunk driving accidents. It is no wonder that law enforcement is cracking down on suspected driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated cases. Police officers are always on the lookout for anyone who is driving unsafely, and they will stop anyone suspected of driving under the influence. However, with more reports coming out, it is becoming suspicious that certain people get stopped for DUI more than others.

A police officer’s duty is to keep their community safe and handle situations without bias. In order for an officer to pull you over for suspected DUI, they must consider the evidence objectively before turning on their lights and sirens. However, sometimes the officer’s biased opinion may cloud their objectivity before they even pull you over. In this case, you may be the subject of a DUI charge due to confirmation bias.

Police officers will look for evidence to support their case

Imagine that you just walked out of a bar and got into your car. You were perfectly fine to drive since you did not drink at all that night and were just meeting up with a couple of friends before you headed home. A police officer who was parked across the street noticed you and watched you fumble with your keys as you got into the car. When you pull away, the police officer follows. He notices you slightly jerk the wheel at one point and then puts on his lights to pull you over.

The police officer suspects that you could be driving under the influence because you walked out of a bar, and followed you out of the parking lot to look for more signs of intoxication. You refused a breathalyzer test, but he now assumes it is because you are trying to cover the fact that you had too much to drink. Flustered, you agree to a field sobriety test because you know you are sober. However, your nerves have you distracted and cause you to fail the test. The officer charges you with a DUI. That is confirmation bias. The officer continued to interpret your clumsiness and nervousness as intoxication because he needed more evidence to prove his initial suspicion.

DUI charges are increasing among women

Despite the fact that overall driving under the influence charges are steadily decreasing year over year, DUI arrests are continuing to climb for women. Throughout a 17-year period, male driver DUIs decreased by over 32% while female driver DUIs only decreased by merely five percent. This study also found that while the rate in which men were driving while impaired was higher, women have still had more DUI arrests overall. The author went so far as suggesting that the arrest rate for women in their late 20s and early 30s, as shown in these cases, may be higher because of changes in enforcement where women are being picked out more often than men.

Officers can see your prior DUIs

Police officers are legally allowed to run your tags in Tennessee without probable cause. However, if they do already suspect you are driving under the influence, run your tags, and see that you have a history of DUIs, it can be problematic for you. Even if you are now 30 years old and you had just one DUI when you were freshly 21 years old with a 0.09% blood alcohol concentration, they will see that. And knowing that you have a prior conviction, even though you served your time, will possibly skew their subjective opinion by thinking that you could be doing it again.

You can protect yourself against confirmation bias

When officers ask you to perform things like field sobriety tests, they are completely voluntary. If you believe you have been wrongfully pulled over due to bias, then remember that you have the right to refuse any tests. If you take the tests and then fail, you may put yourself into a worse spot by giving the police officer more “evidence” to fuel their DUI claim. Passing or failing a field sobriety test is completely subjective as there is no medical information extracted from the scene.

Your signs of intoxication may have been signs of something else

If your DUI case goes to trial, you will need to fight to prove that you were not actually intoxicated or under the influence of any drugs at the time of your stop. That is why it is important to work with an experienced DUI attorney who can help. Proving your case may be tough, but it is not always impossible, especially if you have evidence. Bringing evidence like doctor’s notes or reviewing bodycam footage from the officer may help you get the charge dismissed.

There are also many reasons you may have displayed signs of being under the influence without actually being under the influence. Some of them are:

  • Health issues
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Bad balance
  • Distraction
  • Not understanding instructions

Fighting a DUI charge on your own can be tricky. If you believe that you were pulled over and charged with a DUI due to confirmation bias, the Franklin attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates may be able to help. They will help you with your case and fight for your rights, no matter your age, gender, or race. Call our office, or submit a request through our contact form to schedule an appointment in Franklin, Columbia, or Brentwood today.