When we meet with our clients we go through the entire arrest with them in detail. We want to discuss all pertinent facts and we want to hear the driver’s side of the story so that we can better get to know our clients, and in turn present the story to the Prosecutor so that they see our client as more than just another file number.
One of the most common responses we get is when we ask our clients how they felt they did on the Field Sobriety Tests. The answer is generally, that they did pretty well and felt that they had passed. However, the tests are extremely subjective and designed to fail.
The tests are subjective and are determined to be passed or failed by the officer and his or her observations. In comparison, the breath or blood test to determine blood alcohol content are objective. It does not require anyone to make a conclusive determination based on their own personal observations, it provides a number that is objective.
The officers, when giving Field Sobriety tests are generally gathering evidence and fulfilling their fifteen minutes of observation time. When officers pull you over and ask you to step out of the car and complete a series of field sobriety tests, they have already obtained the reasonable suspicion required to do so. This reasonable suspicion may be obtained based on the observation of your behavior, weaving in and out of lanes, strong smell of alcohol, watery eyes, slurring and in many cases a confession that you had been drinking.
The officer must then establish enough DUI evidence to warrant arresting you and taking you into the station. To continue to gather more evidence, they conduct subjective field sobriety tests, which you will more likely than not, fail.
The tests the officer will ask you to complete will generally be the same standard tests given to anyone who is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer will ask you to follow his pen or flashlight with your eyes. It is natural to move your head along with the object, but they will consider you to have failed if you move your head even slightly. Another test that is often given will involve officers asking you to put your head back for 30 seconds. Most people will do their best to count to 30 seconds, however, it is generally only 24 seconds or so. It is extremely difficult for a person to accurately estimate 30 seconds, whether they are sober or not.
These are just a few examples of the tests they may administer, each one difficult to successfully complete whether a driver is sober or intoxicated. The government will then use the failure of these tests as evidence of your intoxication. Consult a San Diego DUI expert to help weaken the effect of these biased tests and have the Judge focus on the real evidence at hand.