The Use of Other Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of the Department of Transportation has established what is known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Actually, the SFST is a battery of three tests: the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which are to be administered and evaluated in a standard manner. The combined results of the three tests provides law enforcement reliable data to form the probable cause necessary to arrest a DUI suspect.
Other field sobriety tests employed by law enforcement are considered non-standardized. If your arrest was based on the use of such a test, your Orange County DUI attorney may be able to attack the prosecution’s case on the basis that non-standardized tests do not accurately reflect an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and therefore do not provide the probable cause for arrest.
For example, an officer may request that a person stopped for suspicion of DUI write a statement or say the alphabet or perhaps pronounce certain words. Should the individual perform poorly, the officer may then use that as a basis for an arrest. However, “tests” such as these are not conclusively indicative of the level of sobriety for the person taking the test. Many other factors may come into play.
For instance, how a suspect may perform on any verbal test must be viewed in light of his familiarity with the English language. Poor diction, anxiety, or health issues may be the reason for poor performance on these tests, not alcohol consumption.
Handwriting tests are similarly unreliable. Many police departments require the arresting officer to obtain a handwriting sample from the defendant. If that sample is difficult to read, sloppy or perhaps illegible, this is offered to prove the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.
But just as with the verbal tests, poor handwriting has been shown in controlled studies to be unreliable as an indicator of sobriety. If non-standardized filed sobriety tests were administered to you, a consultation with an experienced Orange County DUI attorney will help you understand your rights.