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Attacking Field Sobriety Tests In a DUI Case

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Sep 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

The reason that the police make people do the field sobriety tests related to a DUI in Los Angeles county is that that is one way that they can try to make the argument if the case goes to a jury trial that the person that they arrested could not safely operate a motor vehicle In other words, those field sobriety tests are designed to verify whether somebody could safely operate a motor vehicle for purposes of a DUI in Los Angeles County.

Other tests are undoubtedly relevant, like how the person is talking, how they're walking, how they were driving, whether they got into an accident, whether they were speeding, whether they could follow the instructions of the police officer.

So, one way to discredit the field sobriety test, and probably the best way that's now available in today's technology – unless the police try to cheat and hide it from the defense – is either the dashcam of the police vehicle – if that shows a person doing the field sobriety test and performing them well, that would undoubtedly discredit the field sobriety test if the police try to claim that they failed them.

Another one that has come onto the scene now, again if the police don't cheat and hide it from the defense, is the body cam. The LAPD is supposed to be wearing body cams out there. Why wouldn't they have them turned on during a DUI stop where they're trying to claim that the person can't safely operate a motor vehicle, is staggering – all the things that they claim in the police report – let everybody else see it.

Let's not just have it all captured with you. So those are two significant ways now in today's DUI world in Los Angeles to discredit the field sobriety test, which is body cam evidence and dashcam evidence.

Review Witness Cell Phone Video

Another one I'm seeing now is another good one, and this is a technology, and it's great – what if somebody else is videoing the field sobriety test from their phone. That's another good way to get them. Like the passenger does it.

Some passerby stops. We get that all the time in these cases. I've been doing this for twenty-five years. This is great new technology – videotapes. That's how they're catching the police on police brutality cases.

They might also help out in field sobriety tests and DUI tests. I've had people for many years that the police are lying about how they did on the field sobriety test. Most people tell me they think they passed the field sobriety test. I know for sure that according to the police, they didn't give a field sobriety test because they wouldn't be allowed to arrest them if they gave all the field sobriety tests.

So that's one way to discredit the field sobriety test. Another way that has been around for a long time is to pass some of the tests. That helps. Because how could they pass a test if they were so intoxicated, and believe it or not, sometimes the police admit that person gave some of the field sobriety tests.

I would think now, more and more, with all this video evidence, the police have to be very careful about lying about that because if they get caught lying, they'll be fired and possibly even prosecuted. So, that's another way to do it. If you can pass some of the tests, that's a little foothold in proving that the tests were good. You didn't have a problem. It would help if you weren't arrested for a DUI.

So, passing those tests is crucial. Unfortunately, it relies on the subjectivity of the police. In other words, the police are the ones who judge whether you pass a test or not, and that's unfortunate, it really should be captured on video, and then if you want to take your DUI case to a jury trial, the jury can judge for themselves whether they think you passed those tests.

Review of Breath or Blood Test Results

Another way to discredit the field sobriety test is some other tests. For example, they're claiming you didn't pass, and you're too intoxicated to drive, but then your blood or breath test comes back under a .08. Bam! Field sobriety test discredited.

You're under the legal limit. It would help if you hadn't been arrested for a DUI, and regardless of what the police are subjectively claiming, your results were in the field sobriety tests. Now you have something to say, wait a minute, I'm under the legal limit because, believe it or not, you can be charged with a violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), which doesn't have anything to do with being a .08 or greater.

That has to do with alcohol in your system and not safely operating motor vehicles. And of course, how do the police prove you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle? The field sobriety test is one way. They would be a subjective belief – if they got the little PAS device that says you had alcohol in your system and they claim you have a drink on your breath, they claim you didn't pass the field sobriety test, now they can make a run at you for a DUI.

So, the bottom line is, if you have an issue related to the field sobriety test, you have to get in front of an attorney. I talk about this all the time, the DUI cases I've been doing for twenty-five years now, in all of the courts of Los Angeles County.

We talk about field sobriety tests, whether the person passed, what evidence we can get to show they gave. Then we make an informed decision after we've reviewed everything, whether this is a case worth fighting or whether this is something that we should resolve by way of a disposition.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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