Alabama Field Sobriety Testing
Unlike blood or breath tests, field sobriety tests are entirely voluntary. Unfortunately, most people don’t know this, and comply with the officer’s requests to perform these subjective tests. If this applies to your situation, you need an attorney who can challenge your results.
The police exercise tests that you were asked to perform on the side of the road under abnormal conditions were not designed to objectively determine whether you were in fact impaired by alcohol. Police and prosecutors use them to collect evidence against you. These tests are difficult to pass, as they are judged by negative scoring—you get no credit for doing things correctly. You can perform a test perfectly but fail because the officer thought you performed in a “slow deliberate manner.”
Police in Alabama routinely use field exercises that were rejected after exhaustive studies under expensive federal grants. These include: THE ALPHABET TEST; THE FINGER COUNT TEST; COUNTING BACKWARDS; TOUCHING FINGER TO NOSE TEST; MODIFIED BALANCE TEST – ESTIMATE 30 SECONDS WITH EYE CLOSED AND HEAD TILTED BACK. These field sobriety tests are not scientific or reliable. In almost every case in Alabama, these tests are conducted in a manner that is not approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by police officers who do not know how to properly administer these exercises.
Proper cross examination of the arresting officer can demonstrate that these exercises do not predict impairment for the purposes of driving a motor vehicle. A scientist hired by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has admitted that the field tests do not measure impairment. She has also admitted that they are unreliable unless they are administered in strict compliance with STANDARDIZED TESTING PROCEDURES.
A recent published scientific study evaluated 100 videotapes of police conducting the horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye) test, and found that each and every officer performed the test wrong. Cross-examination of police officers with their very own training manuals routinely demonstrates their lack of knowledge and skill. Experienced DUI trial lawyers will file Pre-Trial Motions challenging the use of this unreliable and prejudicial evidence and limiting the ability of the prosecutor to create an “aura of science” or even call them “tests”.
Discrediting the Tests
› Establish that the field sobriety tests are not scientific
› Show that the officer was not properly trained
› Show that the officer did not use standardized NHTSA tests
› Show that the officer did not properly instruct you on how to perform tests
› Show that the officer did not use objective standardized scoring criteria
› Show that the officer had you perform the tests under improper conditions
› Explain how your age or weight make you an improper candidate for tests
› Prove that you have a physical disability that makes you an improper candidate for tests
› Prove that you have a psychological condition that makes you an improper subject for tests
› Show that the officer exaggerated about your performance on the tests
After a DUI charge, the key is to determine whether or not the field sobriety tests are valid evidence. If you were asked to take a field sobriety test after being pulled over and want more information on your rights and how you may fight these charges, speak with a lawyer.