Roland X. Tiemann - Experienced, Affordable, Aggressive, Dedicated, Northern California DUI Defense Lawyer
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Field Sobriety Test Defenses

The DUI Officer Has No Baseline For Your Performance On The Field Sobriety Tests

The DUI officer will claim you “performed poorly” on the field sobriety tests therefore you were impaired. But “poorly” compared to what? This claim is meaningless without knowing how you would perform normally even with nothing to drink. People vary tremendously in their natural ability (or inability) to perform field sobriety tests.How well a given person performs the field sobriety tests depends on many factors: natural level of coordination and equilibrium, natural level of balance, fitness level, composure in the face of pressure, injuries, age and practice, among others.

The DUI Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Were Not Properly Administered

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) devised national standards for how DUI officers are to administer the three standardized field sobriety tests: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk-and-Turn Test and the One-Leg Stand Test. DUI officers often fail to adhere to these national guidelines. This opens up their whole DUI investigation to attack. Often times a DUI officer will say in his report the DUI suspect “failed” or “performed poorly” on the field sobriety tests; but when the performance is judged according to NHTSA’s national standards, the person did everything correctly!

The Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Lack Reliability

The non-standardized field sobriety tests include the finger-to-nose test , the finger count test, the hand pat test, the coin pickup, the alphabet test, the reverse counting test and the Rhomberg test (tilting your head back and estimating 30 seconds). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set no standards for how to administer, score or interpret these tests, and no studies have ever shown them to be reliable indicators of DUI impairment.

Field Sobriety Tests Don’t measure driving Impairment

Even when the standardized field sobriety tests are administered perfectly (which is rare), they still provide a very inaccurate measure of whether a DUI suspect is impaired. According to NHTSA, for example, the one leg stand test has a 65% accuracy rate and the walk-and-turn test a 68% accuracy rate.This means that if people were convicted based on these roadside tests, one third of them would be innocent and wrongly convicted. Or, viewed another way, when officers arrest DUI suspects based on failing these tests, one in three suspects is wrongfully arrested.

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