California DUI Field Sobriety Testing

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are used by the police to establish probable cause for their administering a preliminary breath test or making a California driving under the influence (DUI) arrest.  The officers who administer these tests are supposed to be trained to look for specific “scoring factors” that are supposed to help determine if an individual is intoxicated.  FSTs are highly subjective and what one police officer may see as failure, another might not.  The problem here is that when an officer files his or her report stating that the suspected California Drunk Driver failed or performed poorly on one or more FSTs, he or she neglects to provide a standard of comparison.

While an individual may “fail” or “perform poorly,” according to the testing officer, where is the comparison?  Without knowing how one would perform when not having anything to drink and under different circumstances, the officer truly cannot claim that one’s poor performance indicates intoxication.  An individual’s capabilities can vary tremendously from  one time to another depending upon how one is feeling, medications they may be taking, their natural sense of balance, age, coordination, etc.  In addition, certain conditions certainly can also have an affect on how a suspected  California DUI offender performs.  Wet and slippery surfaces, unstable footwear such as boots or stiletto heels, and cold or windy weather can all cause poor performance during field sobriety testing.  

Experienced California DUI Defense Attorneys will carefully review the circumstances in which any field sobriety tests were given.  He or she will look to see if the testing officer adhered to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) protocols and has received the proper training.  If not, a California Drunk Driving lawyer most often can get any testimony given by the testing officer thrown out. 

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