Field Sobriety Tests
The DUI laws are based on measuring impairment using a chemical test that pinpoints blood alcohol concentration (or BAC). Any experienced Orange County DUI attorney could tell you that a chemical test is the most reliable indicator of BAC. However, in the field, police officers use a number of non-chemical tests that are subjective and often a poor indicator of sobriety or impairment.
It may be helpful to know about law enforcement practices and the accuracy of the tests. Your attorney should be up to speed on all of these tests, as well as the variables that reduce the reliability of the assessments.
Some examples of subjective field sobriety test techniques used by law enforcement include asking drivers to recite the date and time, gaining a written specimen of the alphabet with the driver’s signature and date, tracing a drawing, or counting backward. They can also ask a series of distracting questions and/or interrupt the answers with even more questions, confusing the person taking the test.
In addition to these exercises, some physical challenges may be used. Walking on a straight line heel-to-toe is a classic example of a balance test but there are many other coordination/balance assessments. These include touching the finger to one’s nose, counting fingers, other balance tests, Nystagmus tests of eye movement, standing on one leg, hand pat, or coin pick-up. Officers may also combine tasks and ask, for example, that the subject balance while touching a finger to the nose.
Since a person’s normal level of balance or coordination is not known, these types of tests may be refuted by a skilled Orange County DUI attorney. But be aware that while the outcomes are not completely objective, the main purpose of these tests is to establish probable cause for a traffic stop or arrest. Other goals of subjective tests are to document a causal relationship between drinking and driving performance, as well as to spot physical or mental impairment while driving.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you will need representation by an experienced legal expert. Now is the time to call Coffey & Coffey at (800) 706-7888. Their knowledge of the law, police practices, and the operations of local courts is essential for a fair outcome to your case.