The one-leg stand is another field sobriety exercise the police use to determine if a motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The test requires the motorist to balance on one leg for 30 seconds. To complete the one-leg stand test, a motorist must stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground with the toe pointed. While maintaining perfect balance, the motorist has to count out loud by thousands (one thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) for thirty seconds. While the test is being performed, the officer is looking for certain clues: (1) putting your foot down before the test is completed; (2) swaying while trying to maintain your balance; (3) hopping while trying to maintain your balance; and (4) using your arms to help maintain your balance. At least two of the clues have to be present for an officer to claim a motorist showed impairment on the one-leg stand test.
Can A Driver Contact An Attorney Prior To Making A Decision On Field Sobriety Tests?
A driver does not have the right to contact an attorney before performing the field sobriety tests. However, and this is VERY important: a motorist does not have to do the field sobriety testing. There is no legal punishment if a motorist refuses to perform field sobriety testing.
What Happens If Someone Refuses To Perform The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
Based on our years of experience, police officers make up their minds quickly as to whether or not they will arrest a motorist for DUI. When a motorist refuses to perform the field sobriety testing, it simply validates an officer's previously formed belief that you are DUI. But, why do tests set up for you to fail?
What Personal Health Issues Can Impact A Standardized Field Sobriety Test?
There are many personal health issues that can affect a standardized field sobriety test. Age is a factor. The tests were not designed for people over 60. Weight is another factor. The tests are not designed for people who are overweight. The environmental conditions also play a major factor in the outcome of the tests. If the tests are performed on an uneven surface, then the motorist doesn't have a fair chance at successfully completing the test. These facts need to be brought to the Court's attention by an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney.
What Factors Can Exempt Someone From Taking The Field Sobriety Tests?
Before standardized field sobriety tests are administered, the police are supposed to ask you if there is anything that would prevent you from successfully performing the tests. This is the time where you should politely inform the police officer of any medical or physical conditions you have that would prevent you from performing the field sobriety tests. For example, if you have balance or leg problems, you should inform the police officer. Most police officers will tell you, “don't worry, go ahead and try them anyway.” You should again politely decline the officer's invitation and tell the officer that your medical condition makes it impossible for you to do roadside exercises. Let the officer know that because of your medical condition you simply don't have a fair chance at successfully completing the exercises.
Do Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Really Determine If Someone Is Impaired?
There has been great debate over whether or not standardized field sobriety testing can actually tell if someone is impaired. The problem is there is so much room for “false positives.” In other words, there are simply too many things on these tests that normal, sober people can't do on their best days. Age, weight, physical condition, balance issues, and many other issues may prevent the successful completion of the field exercises; yet, police officers will try to claim that you couldn't perform the tests because you were impaired.
Are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Admissible In Court?
The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test is only admissible at the preliminary hearing level when the magisterial district court judge is determining whether or not there is probable cause to hold the case for court. The HGN test is not admissible at trial because it has not been shown to be scientifically reliable. The remaining field sobriety tests are admissible at trial solely to establish probable cause that a crime was committed.
Are These Tests Always Recorded?
Unfortunately, police officers in Pennsylvania do not have to use a dash cam to record their interactions with motorists. The “high volume” DUI officers rarely use vehicles with working dash cam video. If the police vehicle has a dash cam recorder and it is not used or the video is not produced in Court, you may have a good argument to show the bias of the police officer.
What Defense Strategies Can Be Used To Refute SFST Results In Court?
Mike Sherman has the same standardized field sobriety testing certification that police officers have. With this background, Mike and his team know what to look for when reviewing how police officers administered the field sobriety testing. There are specific testing protocols all police officers must follow. Few officers actually administer and grade the testing properly. We will go to court with you and point out where the officer's testimony falls short.
Science. Investigation. Preparation. At Mike Sherman Law, we see what other lawyers don't! We are passionate about providing an aggressive defense where we leave no stone unturned when helping our clients. Do you have questions? Call us immediately for a free strategy session.
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