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FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING

When charged with drunk driving in Indiana the chances are good that you were told to and/or submitted to what is called “field sobriety testing.” In conjunction with breath/blood test results, field sobriety testing is often an important component of a dui prosecution in attempting to demonstrate the accused driver’s impairment due to alcohol and/or drugs.

Although you or a loved one may have been made to feel powerless to challenge the notion that the arresting officer holds your fate in his or her hands, such is not always the case. When I suggest to a client that I may seek to challenge the officer’s assessments that one has failed such testing I frequently am asked, “isn’t it my word against the officer’s?” The answer is no. When examining potential weaknesses in this area I am usually most focused not on what my client has to say, but more importantly, the actions of the police officer making the dui arrest in question.

What I look for in a potential challenge to the validity of field sobriety testing is the time, place and manner by which the testing has been conducted. Although a law enforcement officer’s words and assertions are made under oath within a court of law, such affirmations are only as reliable as the training and credibility of the officer put under cross examination suggests.

Where appropriate, either due to a lack of breath/blood test evidence or the unreasonable stance of a prosecutor dictating that trial may be required, it is often my turn to compel your arresting dui officer to submit to my own form of testing; that of effective and thorough cross examination. It is often a pleasant surprise for a client in my care to to discover that during the course of a vigorous cross examination, whether in deposition or trial, that I have a more extensive knowledge and command of approved and proper field sobriety test procedure than the arresting officer you had formerly feared.

While many arresting officers conducting dui investigations are well trained and competent, many are not. Whether it be due to inexperience, a lack of training, carelessness or incompetence, a sizeable number of dui arrests are being made throughout the state of Indiana by cops implementing procedures that do not conform with approved procedure.

Governed by policies dictated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), approved rules to assess proper and accurate field sobriety test results have been codified so as to establish a uniform standard of conduct to assure the most credible results possible. As a result, it is essential that my understanding of these rules equal and ideally surpass those in law enforcement who may otherwise be permitted to carelessly use such test procedures to have one improperly convicted and criminally punished for drunk driving.

As a veteran lawyer, I know what test procedures are approved and which are not. I know the statistics and questions to ask to demonstrate whether the field sobriety test results you had formerly been afraid to question can actually withstand challenge for admissibility within a court of law.

In cases where trial is required or breath/blood test results over the legal limit of .08 BAC cannot be excluded, any and all aspects of the alleged field sobriety test results against a client must be challenged to the greatest extent possible. My legal experience and extensive knowledge in this area makes me uniquely qualified to do so.

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