Once again pop singer Justin Bieber is in legal trouble. On January 23 a Miami police officer arrested Bieber on a DUI charge. According to the police report, Bieber and a friend were drag racing on a Miami street. Bieber, the report claims, had consumed a dangerous combination of anti-depressants, beer, and marijuana before climbing behind the wheel of his yellow Lamborghini.
Bieber is challenging the DUI charge. Although he reportedly failed several sobriety tests, his blood alcohol level was only .014 – well below the legal limit. But a home surveillance video confirms that he was driving over the speed limit (at least 55 in a 30 mph zone), and the police report also noted that he was driving with an expired license. Stories are circulating that Scooter Braun, Bieber’s manager, has been pushing him to enter rehab.
Regrettable as the incident is, it gives us an opportunity to examine yet another police report. Suggestion: Go to the link, read the report yourself, and do your own evaluation before going on to the comments below.
Overall, this is an excellent police report: Professional, thorough, objective. It employs active voice and everyday language. The details about Bieber’s words and actions are convincingly presented. One impressive detail: The officer did not hesitate to record Bieber’s crude language.
There are a few mistakes. Lamborghini is misspelled (probably because the officer was writing in the middle of a shift and did not have the luxury of double-checking the spelling).
Two sentences in the middle of the report have a number of problems:
1. “I immediately smelled an odor of alcohol eminating from the drivers breath and bloodshot eyes.”
- A defense attorney might challenge the DUI charge by noting that alcohol is odorless. The officer should have written “an odor of an alcoholic beverage….”
- The apostrophe is missing in driver’s breath
- Emanating is misspelled
- The first sentence is awkwardly worded: It sounds as if the odor was coming from both the driver’s breath and his eyes – or the officer was saying that he smelled the bloodshot eyes.
There’s a simple solution to most of the problems: Use simple language (coming instead of emanating), and write a separate sentence about each fact:
“I immediately smelled an odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. I saw bloodshot eyes.”
2. “The driver had slow deliberate movements and a stuper look on his face.”
This sentence might create some problems if the officer has to testify in front of a jury. “Slow, deliberate movements” aren’t necessarily a sign of substance abuse. And what movements did the officer see? If there’s a trial six months later, the officer might have trouble remembering what he saw. It might be better to write exactly what Bieber was having so much difficulty doing:
“He fumbled when he tried to open the glove box to get his registration.”
The word stuper creates more problems. First, it’s misspelled: The officer probably intended to write stupor. And what if the attorney asked the officer to describe a stupor look? It’s an awkward and confusing expression. Since the alcoholic beverage and bloodshot eyes already establish probable cause, it might be better not to try to describe Bieber’s face and movements.
In general, though, the officers handled this incident competently and professionally.