Challenging Roadside Sobriety Tests In Tampa
Let us get one thing straight first of all: It is not illegal for adults to drink and drive. What is illegal is for an adult to drive impaired by alcohol or other substances and factors. Many clients of Escobar, Michaels & Associates had never been in trouble with the law before being charged with DUI. They may have had a glass of wine or two at a social function and then had the misfortune to be subjected to an unwarranted traffic stop by law enforcement officers who proceeded to subject them to one or more sobriety tests.
Breath tests, blood tests and urine tests are all chemical means by which law enforcement agents seek to confirm a condition of impairment. A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney understands the many legal angles to take when defending a suspect who has taken these types of tests.
Roadside sobriety tests are another way that many law enforcement agents use to try to prove drunkenness. In our years of DUI defense practice, we have come to realize that roadside sobriety tests have never proven to be reliable ways to determine an impaired state. For this reason, we name them accurately for what they are: roadside sobriety exercises.
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Endorsed By The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Common roadside sobriety tests or exercises, as well as common weaknesses of these tests are as follows:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus: Police look for indicators of impairment such as inability to follow a moving object smoothly. Unfortunately, police often conduct these tests under stressful conditions. A flashlight in the eye, traffic zooming by and general nervousness may skew the results.
- Walk and turn: Police ask a test subject to walk in a perfectly straight line, turn and walk back. However, many people have balance issues even when they are not inebriated. Other people have foot, ankle, leg, knee or hip problems that may make it difficult to contend that this is a valid test of sobriety.
- One-leg stand: We consider this one as perhaps the most ridiculous test of all. Police ask a test subject to stand on one foot about 6 inches off the ground for 30 seconds. Have you ever tried to do this, even under ideal conditions? A great many sober people cannot perform this exercise reliably.
These three exercises make up the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has endorsed. If you have been arrested on the basis of your results, it is no laughing matter. Your future, your freedom, your driving privileges and your reputation may be at stake.
We Challenge Results Of Roadside Sobriety Tests
Escobar, Michaels & Associates aggressively advocates on behalf of Florida residents and visitors who face DUI charges in our state. Challenging roadside sobriety exercises in Tampa and surrounding areas is a fundamental aspect of our effective representation. No criminal defense lawyer can promise a particular outcome to a particular client. However, we reassure potential clients that we have obtained favorable results for many of our DUI defense clients.
We Do Not Put Much Stock In Results Of Roadside Tests — Even If Prosecutors Do
As we search for the key to a strong defense in your case, we may discover that roadside sobriety exercises are the best evidence a prosecutor can provide against you. We beg to differ — and we will work hard to prove it. When we visit the site of your arrest, we may note anomalies such as slanted angles of the shoulder of the road, heavy traffic or the presence of loose pebbles on the ground. We will persist in our investigation until we are prepared to articulate clearly why one or more of these exercises are insufficient evidence of your alleged drunkenness after you were stopped and tested.
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