Criminal Defense in Orange County

How to Contest the Validity of a Field Sobriety Test

Not all field sobriety tests are created equal. There are over a dozen such tests that have been used to varying degrees to determine the sobriety of an individual who is pulled over for drunk driving. A DUI lawyer in Orange County can successfully contest the accuracy of these field sobriety tests. Studies funded by the Department of Transportation have concluded that only three of the field sobriety tests are effective in detecting intoxication: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg-stand and walk-and-turn. All the other field sobriety tests are simply unreliable and can be disputed.

Although law enforcement agencies nationwide have adopted the recommended "standardized" tests, most law enforcement agencies in California still continue to use whatever tests they prefer. The majority of the "other" field sobriety tests, such as the ability to recite the alphabet or writing certain statements, is extremely unreliable and can be easily disputed. These tests are largely unfamiliar to most individuals and are not well-practiced, making them more difficult to perform. However, it should be noted that these field sobriety tests are only 65-77% accurate.

In other words, one out of every three people who get arrested for DUI based on a failed field sobriety test is innocent. This is one of the main reasons why it is so crucial to consult an Orange County DUI attorney after your arrest. Our firm can help you understand whether or not you may be able to contest the admissibility of a field sobriety test in court. We will analyze and evaluate how you performed on the tests to see if they were conducted properly. Some tests are physical coordination tests, so it may be helpful to examine the conditions under which the tests were given.

Were you asked to perform a walk-and-turn test or a one-leg-stand test in a well-lit room in a police station, or were you on the side of a dark road with uneven gravel? It may be that the test would be difficult to perform, even for a sober person under such conditions. If your case goes to trial, you may be asked to demonstrate your normal ability to these tests in open court. You might be able to demonstrate that you have difficultly performing the tests even while sober and thus, your poor performance at the time of your arrest was not necessarily due to being intoxicated.

If you have further questions about the validity of field sobriety tests, contact an Orange County criminal defense lawyer at The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs for a free consultation.