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A Sacramento DUI Attorney Discusses Field Sobriety Tests

Standardized field sobriety tests are not always reliable indicators of driving while intoxicated.

An experienced Sacramento DUI lawyer will examine the tests administered prior to your arrest to determine whether their reliability can be called into question in your specific case.

Controversy Surrounding Non-Chemical Tests

Patrol car The point of the controversy surrounding field sobriety tests centers not on the harm that high levels of alcohol can cause to the physical coordination and mental judgment of a driver, nor does it challenge the fact that the ability of a driver under the influence to operate a vehicle safely is jeopardized. Instead, your Sacramento DUI attorney may question the sufficiency of the information provided by such tests to accurately determine the degree to which the driver may or may not be under the influence at the time he or she was stopped.

The Applicable Issues

Your Sacramento DUI lawyer can show many reasons why field tests may not carry the degree of reliability that chemical testing does. The problems intrinsic to the tests include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The tests are not validated by sufficient scientific data
  • Variation in the effects of alcohol between subjects and in the same subject at different times (inter-subject and intra-subject variability)
  • The ability of the subject to perform the tests when sober cannot be known
  • The subject may be unable to perform the test for reasons not related to alcohol (a medical condition)
  • The test/study may be flawed in design.
    The statistical analysis (means/averages) may not be applicable to the individual
  • The Sacramento DUI lawyer may be able to point to flaws present in the manner in which the tests were given and scored.
Application of Statistics

Your Sacramento DUI lawyer may point out that if the statistics applied to field sobriety test results are inconsistent with the methodology used, the results may not be reliable. In other words, standardized field sobriety test statistics apply to standardized field sobriety test administration.

The Scientist’s Responsibility

Unless all of the facets inherent in non-chemical assessment of sobriety are taken into consideration by the scientist interpreting the results, your Sacramento DUI lawyer will very likely be able to question the validity of a general statement of how “all persons” might be affected or impaired at any specific point.

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