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Understanding Field Sobriety Tests in a San Diego DUI Case
The prosecution’s job in every San Diego DUI case is to gather enough objective and comprehensive information to form a reliable opinion about intoxication. Generally, field tests are not as reliable as a chemical test. However, an indicator of determining impairment is observing the cues of the defendant during the field sobriety test. The field sobriety tests are less reliable and a poor indicator of impairment because you are pre-destined to fail! This means if the officer believes under the totality of circumstances that you failed, and then you failed! Tell the officer you have medical conditions that prevent you from engaging in the test, and then do not do them! Not even an attorney understands the instructions when an officer asks to stand on one foot and count backwards. The whole purpose behind the field sobriety test is to gain enough probable cause to perform a chemical test. If you can avoid the field sobriety test all together, then do not do it.
However, you are only reading this probably after you already took the field sobriety test. This is the advice I have for all the people who already took the test, the field sobriety test is not enough to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Generally, the field test can only enable an officer to develop probable cause for the arrest and assist in establishing possible physical or mental impairment at time close to driving. The goal is to find a casual relationship between alcohol and driving behavior.
There is a difference between standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. Standardized tests can be correlated with impairment if administered in strict compliance with the testing protocols. Non-standardized tests have no validity or corroboration of any correlation to impairment by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The standardized tests include only the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one leg stand. Police officers are aware of the importance of the standardization in learning the procedural aspects of the field sobriety examination. I have trained with them in the classroom setting and often instructors will tell them that only three tests can be correlated to impairment if conducted correctly.
Often times professional police work takes a back seat at the beginning of the police DUI stop and arrest. They do not give correct instructions; they calculate incorrect cues based on improper examination techniques. These tests are designed for reliability and information is often suppressed during the trial setting stage if not done correctly.
If you have any questions about the Field Sobriety Test in your San Diego DUI case, contact San Diego DUI Defense attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Attorney