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Are Police Properly Trained On Field Sobriety Tests?

Are Police Properly Trained On Field Sobriety Tests?

Simply put, if the officer who administered the field sobriety tests is not able to prove that he or she was well trained and competent to give you those tests, your attorney may possibly be able to get the results of those tests thrown out of your case.

If the results cannot be thrown out due to the officer not being proven to be incompetent to give the tests, then demonstrating (at trial) his or her lack of experience or competence in properly administering, demonstrating or “grading” these evaluations may be used to challenge the weight and credibility of the evidence.

If your field sobriety evaluations are thrown out, it is likely the officer did not have enough probable cause to arrest you for DUI-DWI. Where probable cause is found to be lacking for your custodial arrest, the DUI-DWI charges must typically be dropped.

Even the national media has begun understanding the unfairness and subjectivity of the so-called “field sobriety tests.” After top-rated researchers have empirically shown that the evaluations are “designed to fail,” the media has begun to reveal the soft underbelly of this mainstay of police work.

A national effort to FORCE citizens to submit to field sobriety screening tests will be evident over the next decade. One primary focus will be to mandate roadside screening with portable alcohol screening devices. Manufacturers are presently making more portable devices for this purpose, including devices that print out a written score or result, such as the Intoximeter Alco-Sensor IV XL and Draeger Alcotest 7410 Plus DOT.

Depending on the state where your DUI case is pending, your attorney may or may not be able to obtain information regarding the police officer’s training and experience prior to trial or at a pre-trial hearing. However, it is usually available during trial.

Until your attorney gets to question the officer who performed the field evaluations during your DUI-DWI stop, the flaws in his or her training or proper administration of the tests may not appear.

If proof of the officer’s departure from or non-compliance with the proper procedures is to be established, your attorney will usually need an expert witness who is an instructor on these psycho-physical tests. An experienced DUI-DWI attorney likely knows the majority of the law enforcement officers in the geographic region in which he or she practices law, and will typically know which officers are deficient in administering the standardized field sobriety evaluations. Follow your attorney’s advice in retaining an expert to neutralize this evidence against you by telling the jury how and why it was done incorrectly.

Even hand-held breath alcohol screening tests can be excluded from evidence where police officers cannot prove compliance with mandatory periodic calibration checks or with establishing that the particular device used was an “approved” screening device.

Further Reading

For more information on field sobriety tests, take a look at one of our articles detailing specific aspects of these DUI tests below: