Sunday, November 1, 2009

California Field Sobriety Tests for DUI

Field "Sobriety" Tests in California are OPTIONAL!!

Most people don't realize that field sobriety tests in California are completely optional. The police officers who pull you over and give them to you will not tell you this, nor are they required to, but they are optional. You are absolutely within your rights to politely refuse to take the California Field Sobriety Tests in their entirety. In other words, "Just Say NO, Thank You!"
The officer will probably tell you that if you do not comply, he or she will have no alternative but to arrest you. For starters, that is NOT true. And second, it is so subjective that you will probably be arrested anyway if the officer is so inclined and, if you take the tests, you will have supplied them with evidence against you.

These Field Sobriety Tests are not really tests at all. Instead, they are physical agility exercises that are SUBJECTIVE in nature. In other words, the police officer, who already thinks you are DUI because he is giving you the Field Sobriety Tests, is the one who is determining whether you pass or fail each test. Furthermore, police officers are agenda oriented. The more arrests and resulting convictions they make, the better their work records are. Because of this they are actually looking for you to fail.
The officer is looking for any and every mistake that you make. In fact, many people with absolutely no alcohol in their system "fail" these tests.
Field Sobriety Tests may include:
Nystagmus Test - These tests range from 65-80 percent reliable in establishing that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which in fact leaves quite a large margin of error. Generally, alcohol slows our responses. When a person is impaired by alcohol the nerves in the eyes are stimulated and do not behave as normal. While a slower response means that a person has difficulty following an object with their eyes, and a severely intoxicated person may have to actually move their entire head to attempt to track an object with their eyes, nystagmus is exaggerated. The eyes will twitch or jerk at less than the 45-degree-angle response in a sober person. It is important to note that nystagmus is a naturally occurring phenomenon of the eyes; drugs and/or alcohol only increase or exaggerate the twitching or jerking of the eyes.
Walk and Turn Test - This test consists of asking the driver to walk heel-to-toe along a line for nine steps, turn at the end and return. It is a simple test that anyone should be able to perform without difficulty, in theory. The test does not account for performance in high heels, windy road conditions, or gravel roads. For the examining officer purpose is twofold: the driver must be able to understand simple instructions and physically manage the test. The police officer is considering if the driver follows the instructions as given; can keep his or her balance; stops to adjust balance or loses balance; uses the heel-to-toe method requested; uses the arms to try to keep balanced; or does not take the required number of steps. However, the external factors that may affect performance are often overlooked and quite often on purpose.
Standing on One Leg Test -This test also has a 65 percent reliability that a driver is impaired (BAC of .10 or higher) if s/he cannot perform this action. Combined with the walk-and-turn test, reliability is about 80 percent. However, it is important to note that even these test results combined leave a 20% margin of error. With a good attorney and the proper experts this margin of error can be exploited. Remember again there can be additional errors of these tests are not administered properly. In this test, driver is asked to stand with one foot raised about six inches. While doing so, s/he must count aloud (one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.) until asked to stop (about 30 seconds)
Finger to Nose Test - This test requires the driver to close his or her eyes and bring the finger around to touch the nose. In certain cases while you are performing the test the officer may try to distract you, thereby altering your ability to successfully complete the test. These tactics are not uncommon and well known by this seasoned Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer.
Alphabet Test - reciting the alphabet, or a portion of it.
Rhomberg Stationary Balance Test-This requires the driver to stand, feet together, and lean the head back to look up at the sky while holding their arms out to the side. The officer is simply looking for a loss of balance. Again this doesn’t take into account any other physical impairments, the road surface itself or many other eternal factors that have nothing to do with alcohol consumption.
Hand Pat Test - The Hand Pat FST requires a subject to place one hand extended, palm up, out in front of him/her. The other hand is placed on top of the first, with the palm facing down. The top hand then begins to pat the bottom hand. The top hand rotates 180 degrees alternating between the back of the hand and the palm of the hand. The bottom hand remains stationary. The DUI suspect counts out loud, "ONE, TWO, ONE, TWO, ONE, TWO, etc." in relation with each pat. The police officer is testing for the ability to follow instructions as well as coordination in performing the task.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test (PAS) - The preliminary alcohol-screening (PAS) test is used by law enforcement to measure your blood alcohol level. The PAS device is a hand-held breath-testing unit that gives an instant measure of your blood alcohol concentration. The validity of the test can be argued based on whether the test was properly administered and whether or not the machine was properly calibrated or tested for accuracy prior to testing.


A skilled California DUI lawyer will know how to cross examine the police officer who administered and "graded" each test. He understands the possible flaws involved in each of these tests and will be able to exploit any errors.

No comments:

Post a Comment