Why the Field Sobriety Test Is Not Fair

The Field Sobriety Test is inherently unfair – it is graded unfairly and was designed by law enforcement – not scientists – for failure. In school you get credit for correct answers; if you miss some questions, you can still pass. But with the Field Sobriety Test you fail if you miss any questions (“clues”) and you do not get credit for the things that you did perform correctly. You are not told what the officer is looking for in order to fail you or that it only takes TWO missed clues to be considered intoxicated. You are not allowed to practice before taking the test and it is demonstrated to you only once before you have to perform it. You are given a multitude of verbal instructions – 13 for the one leg stand test and 15 for the walk and turn test. Past or present injuries or health conditions you are dealing with, such as surgeries, your age and your weight can affect the results – but that is not taken into consideration. Moreover, the grading of each clue is quite subjective and depends on the officer’s bias or motivations or need to make a DWI arrest to fill quotas. Yet your performance on this test will contribute greatly to whether you are or are not charged and convicted with a DWI.

Evaluating Field Sobriety Test

If you are charged, we know how to evaluate your FST video and argue the subjective areas for you. If we go to trial we can go a step further and use an expert who can explain for the jury the problems with your Field Sobriety Test performance and subjective interpretation.

If you have some type of injury that would make it hard for you to perform some of the tests even when sober then we would get those into evidence as well. For example, we had a client with an eye condition which precluded his being able ever to “pass” (in the officer’s judgement) the HGN eye movement test. We documented this with medical records as one prong in our defense. Many other of our clients have had plates or pins in their ankles or knees made it difficult for them ever to pass the walk and turn test or the stand on one leg test. Other clients again were recovering from surgeries that made successful performance of one or more of the tests impossible. And our clients who just had an accident where airbags deployed did poorly on the FST for obvious reasons.

When we talk with you to evaluate our defenses we will be asking about any impact just previous to the FST or health conditions which could have made you fail any of the sobriety tests and for you to get us documentation of those issues. In the face of a sober video, we argue for a Dismissal or Not Guilty verdict – that the prosecutors or the jury must trust what they see rather than relying on an extremely unreliable machine, method or analysis – and we do this even if your breath or blood came back as over the limit. While we cannot provide any guarantee, we have successfully beat many DWI’s by arguing or explaining the video evidence even in the face of a failed BAC test.

Get Help with a DWI Charge

Carl Haggard is an Ex-Chief District Prosecutor with over 30 years of experience helping and defending people in Houston against DWI charges. If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI call (832) 328-0600 or email today for a free confidential consultation about your case and Carl will go to work fighting for you to provide the best defense possible against your charges.

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