Today’s post focuses on some problematic issues relevant to the field sobriety testing conducted by police officers in Colorado and elsewhere on motorists they suspect may be driving drunk.
The bottom line, as espoused in one instructive media piece/report (somewhat dated, but with enduring timeliness): Those tests are anything but infallible.
Consider as an initial matter that, if you are asked to take those tests, you will be doing so in an unnatural and tense environment. For many people, blood rises dramatically even during a routine doctor’s visit. Imagine that spike at 2 a.m., with lights flashing and an armed police officer standing before you.
As the above-cited article notes: “[Y]ou don’t want to end up on the side of the road face to face with a cop.”
Can you routinely walk a straight line, turning and repeating the process without a stumble? Can you stand on one leg without wavering?
Can your grandfather or, say, any person who has had multiple surgeries — or perhaps suffers from arthritis or another physical malady — do so?
Many people flail with speech in certain situations. How stressful might it be for some of those individuals to stand before a uniformed police officer and be asked to quickly recite a portion of the alphabet? Readers — Can you do an error-free backwards from X to O right now?
A central reality regarding sobriety tests is that — notwithstanding what enforcement officials might say — they are subjective.
Moreover, officers are human, and they are asking motorists to take those tests because they already suspect that those drivers might be inebriated.
For many individuals, best-case advice suggests a polite decline when asked to take field sobriety tests, coupled with timely consultation with a proven criminal defense attorney who routinely handles DUI-related matters.