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Why did the officer say I failed the SFSTs?

When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the police officer may ask the driver to submit to a few tests. These are known as field sobriety tests. A driver may decide to do the tests in the hope that passing the tests mean they can go home. However, these inaccurate tests can be used against the driver and lead to an arrest.

If the police officer thinks you failed the roadside sobriety tests and you end up under arrest in the East Bay, contact the experienced California DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

Can field sobriety tests show whether a driver is impaired or not?

The police, prosecutors, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) think that field sobriety tests are a good measure of impaired driving. However, these tests really just test whether the person can pass the test or not. Drunk drivers can pass these tests just like sober drivers can fail them.

There are three standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) that are generally used in California traffic stops. These are:

·      Walk-and-Turn Test

·      One-Leg-Stand Test

·      Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)

Do I have to do the field sobriety tests during a traffic stop?

Drivers are not required to perform SFSTs during a traffic stop. There are no penalties for refusing to do these roadside tests. The police officer may make it seem like things will go worse if the driver refuses but there are no legal consequences for refusing. In many cases, because they can be so inaccurate, drivers may be better off refusing these tests.

If the police officer is asking the driver to perform these tests, it is likely the officer has already decided to arrest the driver. By having the driver perform these tests, the officer can gather more evidence to use against the driver to justify making the arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What are the police looking for during a sobriety test?

There are specific areas that police are trained to look for during the tests. This not only includes physically performing the test but also following instructions. Some of the things police are looking for during field sobriety testing include:

·      Starting before the officer says to begin,

·      Stopping too soon,

·      Wobbling on one leg,

·      Stepping off the line,

·      Failure to maintain a heel-to-toe position,

·      Taking too many or too few steps,

·      Bending a raised leg,

·      Using arms to balance, or

·      Smoothness of eye movement.

If the officer doesn't give clear instructions, doesn't provide all of the instructions, or isn't counting or measuring properly, the officer may think the individual “failed” the test even if they did everything they were told.

What are some problems with roadside field sobriety testing?

There are a number of problems with roadside sobriety testing and how they are used against accused drunk drivers. Field sobriety tests can be impacted by:

·      Lack of proper training for the police officers learning how to give field sobriety tests,

·      Officer not following the specific rules for giving field sobriety tests,

·      Not properly observing the results of the tests,

·      Police not properly measuring a 45-degree angle,

·      Medical issues,

·      Dangerous road conditions,

·      Uneven surfaces,

·      Flashing lights,

·      Dark conditions,

·      Footwear,

·      Tight clothing,

·      Weight, or

·      Stress.

Any of these issues or a combination can lead to an inaccurate result or make the officer determine the individual “failed” the test.

A DUI defense lawyer is familiar with the requirements of these tests and the problems with their accuracy. Your lawyer can investigate your case, review the evidence (including roadside video and audio recordings), and identify problems with the testing and results. Your lawyer can then challenge the use of the field sobriety tests being used against you in court.

Contact East Bay DUI Attorney Lynn Gorelick

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 32 years of DUI experience. Lynn Gorelick has been trained in the administration of the Field Sobriety Tests  and understands how inaccurate field sobriety tests can be. Representing drivers throughout the East Bay and Contra Costa and Alameda counties, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, DMV hearings, and the local officers involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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