If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DWI, he or she may ask you to take a field sobriety test or FST (e.g. walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test). At the Law Offices of Kyle K. Shaw, PLLC, we can tell you that many, if not most, of our DWI clients thought that they “passed” each of the FSTs the police administered. Unfortunately, once we obtain discovery on the case, virtually all of them are surprised to learn that the report shows that they failed each of the tests or at least most of the tests.
It is important to understand that these tests are far from perfect and even more so if the officer is not administering them in accordance with the NHTSA guidelines. Additionally, there are certain things police officers will fail to tell you about FSTs.
The following are several things law enforcement authorities do not want you to know about field sobriety tests:
- You have the right to refuse them – You might be aware of the “implied consent” law that states you agree to consent to a BAC test. However, most people do not realize that you can still refuse the tests. The refusal just exposes you to greater penalties (a potentially longer drivers license suspension period) than if you consented to the test, took it and failed it.
- Officers have a bias – An officer who asks you to take an FST does so in with the belief that you are intoxicated. While you might think that you are being properly scored for your performance on an FST, law enforcement is actually gathering more evidence against you to establish probable cause to arrest you. The tests are not designed to allow you to prove your sobriety to get you back in your vehicle and down the road. They are designed to obtain evidence you are intoxicated. Anything you do on the test that is short of perfection and constitutes a “clue” will be deemed evidence of your intoxication whether it actually is or not.
- These tests are highly subjective – The only person grading your performance is the officer. It is him or her alone who decides what constitutes a clue. Any unnatural body act, or even symptoms of a medical condition, can be considered as detrimental factors while being tested.
- These tests are inaccurate – According to a study during the late 1970s by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they found that standardizing the tests gave the horizontal gaze nystagmus a 77 percent accuracy rate, the walk-and-turn a 68 percent accuracy rate, and the one-leg stand a 65 percent accuracy rate. When all three were used together, they were correct 82 percent of the time. These percentages were obtained from FST’s that were administered properly. While those numbers may sound high, would you trust your vehicle if it only stopped 82 percent of the time when you pushed the brake pedal? Would you trust a heart surgeon with an 82 percent success rate…or lost 18 percent of his patients?
If you are facing DUI charges in Allen, Texas, do not hesitate to seek the skilled and experienced representation you need to help you through this troubling time. At The Law Offices of Kyle K. Shaw, PLLC, defense attorney Kyle Shaw personally handles each step of his client’s defense. Backed by 20 years of experience, you can be confident in his ability to assist you. He will work tirelessly to provide the defense you deserve to protect your reputation, career, and your rights and freedom.
For more information, contact us and request a free consultation today.