Fifth District Court of Appeals Overturns OMVI Ruling


An appeals court ruled that yelling and flailing his arms was not a valid reason for a Uniontown police officer to pull a motorist over.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled that a Uniontown officer had no justification to pull over a motorist, and consequently, the field sobriety tests that followed were not justified. According to reports, the motorist was observed yelling out his window and flailing his arms.

The motorist in question was charged in November 2013 with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMVI) after his motion to suppress evidence was denied. He appealed to the Fifth District who reversed and remanded his conviction.

The officer testified that he observed the driver making exaggerated arm movements, but could not clearly see into the car. He believed that there was a chance an assault was going on, but did not observe anything to indicate intoxication. However, after following his car for some time, he turned on his lights to indicate a traffic stop. At this time, the driver made a lane violation but did not stop until the officer turned on his siren.

Once the motorist stopped his vehicle, the officer said the driver smelled of alcohol and was slurring his words. He asked him to step outside the vehicle for a field sobriety test, and was then arrested for OVI. After a review of the video from the officer's vehicle, the court determined that the driver did not commit the lane violation the officer cited him for, and therefore there was not reasonable suspicion that the motorist was in violation of the law.