Field Sobriety Tests - What Do They Prove?


If you were stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence, the police probably asked you to perform the "field sobriety tests" (or "FSTs").   Unless you were on probation for a prior DUI conviction, you were not legally required to perform these tests.   Unfortunately, the police are not required to tell you that the tests are optional, and most people submit to the tests.  The prosecutor will later use your performance on these tests as "proof" that you were under the influence.

There are three tests that have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as "standardized" field sobriety tests.  These are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the One Leg Stand and the Walk and Turn test.  They are referred to as "standardized" tests because they are supposed to be administered the same way every time by every officer.  Officers are trained to look for certain designated "clues" on each test and to use your performance on these tests to help them determine whether they should make an arrest.  According to NHTSA, if the officer doesn't administer the tests in the standardized manner, the results are compromised.

In fact, there is no scientific evidence indicating that performance on these FSTs has any reflection on your ability to operate a motor vehicle.  In addition, in our experience, officers in the field rarely administer the tests according to the NHTSA standards.  In one famous study done at Clemson University, officers determined that 46% of the people who performed the tests were under the influence. Unbeknownst to the officers, none of those people had consumed any alcohol at all. (Click here to read the study)  A 2001 study found that more than 95% of police officers observed in the field administered the HGN test improperly.  Mr. Crawford uses such studies, and his wealth of knowledge, when he cross-examines police officers in DUI cases which is why he is very often so successful. 

Skilled cross-examination of the arresting officer and of the prosecution's "expert" witness can reveal the flaws in the field sobriety tests.  They are simply not reliable indicators of whether someone is under the influence of alcohol.

Mr. Crawford has won countless DUI trials, he has had cases dismissed with blood alcohol levels above .15 percent.  He is highly sought after for his expertise and in-depth knowledge of DUI science.  He also speaks to other attorneys during DUI seminars across California.  Call Mr. Crawford today to discuss your case at (831) 783-0222.

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The Crawford Law Firm has been committed to its clients for over fourteen years. Our focus is DUI and criminal cases in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties.

Free consultations are by appointment and we here to ease your mind and fight for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.