Attacking Field Sobriety Tests

Lawyers Attacking Field Sobriety Tests in San Mateo County

In almost every DUI arrest under California DUI law a person is asked by an officer to perform a series of physical tests called field sobriety tests. Most people and jurors have seen a suspected drunk driver perform these tests on television, i.e., on shows such as COPS. While watching these shows, many people mistakenly believe these tests are objective and easy to perform if one is not impaired by alcohol.

However, only three of these field sobriety tests have been studied and approved by the United States Department of Transportation ("DOT"), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHSTA") as having any scientific validity in determining whether a driver is too impaired to drive a motor vehicle. In 1977, NHTSA declared that the only scientifically validated standardized field sobriety tests ("SFSTs") are the: (1) one leg stand; (2) walk and turn; and (3) horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. NHTSA cautioned that in order for any of these three SFSTs to have any scientific validity in identifying intoxicated drivers that they must be uniformly administered and objectively evaluated.

More importantly, NHTSA acknowledged that even when the three standardized field sobriety tests are uniformly administered and objectively evaluated there is a significant margin of error in falsely identifying sober drivers as impaired drivers. For example, both the one leg stand and walk and turn tests result in a false indication of impairment under the objective scoring system 35% of the time. Even the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test produces a false indication of impairment 23% of the time.

Imagine telling a jury that even when the officer does everything right that he or she has greater than a 3 out of 10 ten chance of arresting a sober driver. San Mateo County DUI attorneys Ahmed and Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, will be able to inform the jury about the great margins of error in standardized field sobriety testing. We will also expose to the jury an officer who did not administer the standardized field sobriety tests properly - or who lacked the proper training to properly administer those tests to begin with.

The officer's failure to explain or demonstrate the tests properly may encourage the jury to disregard the results of the test and/or suggest the officer was more concerned with discovering incriminating evidence than determining the truth regarding the subject's impairment. The officer's credibility is undermined when he substitutes his subjective feelings regarding the test results for the objectives standards and scoring system that has been developed by NHSTA. San Francisco Bay Area DUI attorneys Ahmed and Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, understand that if we can undermine the officer's credibility in their area of expertise that we will be able to show to the district attorney, judge and jury that the officer may have made mistakes in other areas of your case, such as administering your breath tests.

Contact the San Mateo DUI defense attorneys at Ahmed and Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, today so that we can help you get the best possible outcome in your DUI case.