“Officer is it reasonable to be scared when taking these tests? How many test runs do you give the person (none)? The Tests are often done in sometimes dark and cold locations right? The tests are done when the person is driving home tired and they are jolted up by the stop and investigaation right? The driver may be distracted by being overwhelmed by the situation right? People in the end may just have previous injuries or bad balance to begin with right? Do you take that into account when evaluation how they perform and the clues you are looking for?
This is just a segment of some of the questions that need to be asked about the Field Sobriety Test (FSTs) adminstration and performance. Someone has to put aside the situation, listen intently, and perform the tests without triggering “clues”. One clue being starting too soon (scared…hello).
I love the MVARs video because you can see it. I have seen video were impairment could be seen. In others, I have seen a scared person who is praying inside they dont want to be arrested. I had a client shaking and scared who failed most of the FSTs because he was so scared. He could not focus. That client ultimately had their case dismissed because his BAC was well under .05%. A picture (and video) can have many meanings. Below is a story on a drivers FSTs. Below that is more information on FSTs.
Newly released California Highway Patrol dashcam video shows an impaired California State Senator Ben Hueso undergoing sobriety tests and answering questions before his August arrest.
In the footage, the San Diego senator is seen driving the wrong way onto a one-way street in Sacramento on Aug. 22. He quickly U-turns, but a CHP officer is quickly on his tail, pulling him over at a nearby gas station.
Hueso gets out of his car and is asked to do field sobriety tests. At the officer’s request, he walks back and forth in a straight line.
He is then asked to do a voluntary breathalyzer test.
“But I’m also a politician,” said Hueso, “and I work with politicians that have been through this process, that have not been given a fair process.”
The CHP officer argues that he has been very honest. He explains Hueso will have to submit to either a blood test or breathalyzer at the station if he is arrested on suspicion of DUI.
Hueso tells the officer that he has to be careful what he does from a legal perspective.
“Whether you decide tonight, you know what, I’m under the influence or not, I have seen some of my colleagues be dragged out to a really horrible legal process,” he is heard saying.
While he says the officer has behaved professionally, Hueso admits he’s worried about his ulterior motives.
When asked if he knows what the legal limit is in California, the senator says it’s not about his blood alcohol content – it’s about whether the officer finds him impaired to drive.
“I admit that I made a wrong turn because there wasn’t – I’m not that familiar with this town. And I was trying to find a way to get back on the freeway,” said Hueso.
When he again refuses the extra test, the CHP officer informs Hueso he is being arrested for DUI. CHP officials later said he had a BAC of 0.08.
However, months later, Hueso pleaded guilty to a lesser “wet reckless” charge because prosecutors have a hard time proving DUI when a defendant only registers a 0.08.
The day after he was released on bond, Hueso released a statement that said, in part, “I am truly and profoundly sorry for the unacceptably poor personal judgment which I demonstrated last night.”
In December, he was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to undergo a six-week alcohol program.
Hueso currently represents California’s 40th District, which covers southern San Diego County, as well as parts of Riverside and Imperial counties
The full article can be found here.
If you are charged with a San Diego DUI or other Criminal offense, you need to call our firm immediately. We are available to take action on your case today. Please email or call us at 858-751-4384 or email me at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation. The key is to be proactive.
Here is a little more information regarding Field Sobriety Tests:
Field sobriety tests, sometimes called roadside sobriety tests, are used to enforce DUI laws and usually precede Breathalyzer tests. A police officer typically performs a three-part field sobriety test after a traffic stop where there is suspicion that the motorist may be drunk or otherwise impaired. These tests allow an officer to observe a suspect’s balance, physical ability, attention level, or other factors that the officer may use to determine whether the suspect is driving under the influence.
Officers record the suspect’s performance on a field sobriety test to be used as evidence in DUI cases; such tests generally have been upheld on appeal. The purpose of all sobriety tests is to ensure that a police officer has probable cause to arrest someone for driving under the influence.
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) consists of the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn (WAT) and one-leg stand (OLS):
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This term refers to the involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs naturally when the eye gazes to the side. But this jerking (or nystagmus) is exaggerated when someone is impaired by alcohol. Officers look for three indicators of impairment in each eye: inability to follow a moving object smoothly; distinct eye jerking when eye is at maximum deviation; and eye-jerking within 45 degrees of center.
Walk and Turn: The purpose of this test, determined to be easily done by most unimpaired people, tests the suspect’s ability to complete tasks with divided attention. This is administered by requiring the suspect to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line; turn on one foot; and then return in the same manner in the opposite direction.
One-Leg Stand: Suspects are asked to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count for 30 seconds. Swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping or putting the foot down indicate possible impairment.
Taken as a whole, the three components of the SFST accurately indicate alcohol impairment in 91 percent of all cases and 94 percent of cases if explanations for some of the false positives are accepted, according to a 1998 study cited by the NHTSA. Suspects who fail the field sobriety test usually are given a breathalyzer test to determine their blood-alcohol concentration before an arrest is made.
Other, non-standardized field sobriety tests may include one or more of the following: standing with feet together and tipping the head backwards; counting the number of fingers an officer raises; reciting the alphabet; counting backwards; standing and leaning back to look up at the sky while holding arms to the side; or closing the eyes and touching nose with finger.
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