The Problem with Field Sobriety Testing

DUI Lawyer Denver CO

DUI Lawyer Denver COIf you have been arrested for driving under the influence, you likely participated in a field sobriety test after you were pulled over. If you are preparing to defend your claim, consider the following potential problems with field sobriety testing that a DUI lawyer may aid in your defense:

1. They Cannot Be Conducted Without Probable Cause. Generally speaking, police officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime before pulling you over. Police officers may cite a relatively minor traffic infraction, such as going over the speed limit, failing to use your turn signal, or driving erratically to justify the stop. After pulling you over, however, the police officer must have further suspicion that you have been drinking and driving before initiating a field sobriety test. Police officers may argue that you look glass-eyed or that you smell of alcohol. This may not be enough in your state to justify a field sobriety test. If the police officer did not have a reasonable suspicion before either pulling you over or administering a sobriety test, you may be able to contest the results of the test or even the arrest itself. Remember, each state has a different standard for probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

2. They are Not All Reliable. Several field sobriety tests have been approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) or may be recognized under your state’s law as generally reliable. However, even if one of these widely accepted tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, is used, if it is administered improperly or if you have personal disabilities that prevent you from performing properly on the test, the results of the test may be excluded in court. In addition to widely accepted field sobriety tests, there are also less-conventional tests such as recitation of the alphabet, counting backwards, or the finger-to-nose test which you may be able to dispute as scientifically unreliable and not indicative of an intoxicated state.

3. You Can Refuse, But at Your Own Risk. You can refuse a field sobriety test, as you can also refuse a breath or blood alcohol test. Your refusal is not enough, generally speaking, to constitute probable cause for your arrest. Note that if you refuse testing, however, you may be facing a mandatory driver’s license suspension regardless of whether you were driving under the influence. Your right to refuse sobriety testing can be overcome if the police officer gets a search warrant from a judge or magistrate requiring you to submit to testing. A search warrant takes time to get and will require the officer to state his or her probable cause for conducting the test.

Facing DUI or DWI charges is very serious. Especially if this is not your first DUI or DWI charge, you may be facing significant jail time, heavy fines, and losing your driver’s license. The best way to ensure that you get a fair outcome at trial is to consult with and hire an experienced and competent DUI lawyer Denver CO clients recommend. A strong DUI lawyer will know the law of Denver CO and other municipalities of Colorado and will have experience with defending clients just like you.