When a person is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, police officers are instructed to utilize standardized filed sobriety tests in order to establish probable cause for arrest. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established three main tests that are deemed most reliable in determining whether or not a suspect is intoxicated, however there are numerous problems with attempting to use these highly subjective tests as evidence in a DUI or OWI case.
One of these standardized tests, and probably the most self-explanatory, is the one-leg stand test. In this test, an officer examines a suspect’s balance and coordination by having them stand on one leg for a period of time. The officer has been trained to look for certain clues that a person may be intoxicated, and after clearly explaining the sobriety test, will look specifically for these errors that a person may make in attempts to find cause to arrest them. While a one-leg stand test may be able to indicate whether or not a person is intoxicated in many cases, if an officer is simply looking for reasons to believe a person may be drunk, it is very easy to see slight errors that even a completely sober person could make when attempting to balance on one leg.
As soon as you are pulled over by an officer who suspects you have been drinking and driving, you need to get in touch with an experienced defense lawyer who can guide you throughout your case. Without a DUI lawyer, you may not be able to recognize rights violations or procedural errors which are common in drunk driving cases, and the more experience your defense lawyer has, the better the results available to you will be. Grabel & Associates has been working in DUI and OWI cases for over 10 years, and our team of seasoned trial attorneys knows what it takes to win in difficult Michigan criminal cases. Contact us immediately for a free case consultation and begin your fight for justice.
The one-leg stand test examines a person’s physical abilities as well as their cognitive abilities, and is also known as a divided attention test because it requires that a person think about multiple things at one time, which can be difficult if under the influence of alcohol. An officer should instruct the suspect to stand straight with his or her feet together while keeping his or her arms by their side. The officer should then specify a leg for the suspect to lift, and tell the suspect to keep the leg approximately 6 inches off the ground for a time period of 30 seconds. In addition, the officer will tell a suspect to count the seconds out loud while keeping his or her eyes from watching the ground.
A police officer should always clearly explain a standardized field test and receive verbal confirmation from a suspect that the instructions have been understood. In addition, every detail that could affect a person’s ability to properly complete the test should be considered, such as if the ground is flat or if the suspect has any medical condition or injury which could sway results.
An officer will be looking for any of the following four indicators to determine if a suspect is intoxicated:
If you fail any of these considerations, it is likely that you will be arrested for DUI/OWI. If you are unable to perform the test properly, the officer will record the result the same as if you failed all four considerations, so don’t hesitate to contact an attorney before speaking to police in Michigan if you have been pulled over.
Standardized field sobriety tests are widely acknowledged as extremely unreliable, outdated, and unnecessary, yet continue to contribute to may wrongful convictions each year. If a police officer gives incorrect or incomplete instructions or if another procedural error is made, the reliability of the tests results can be challenged and the police may not have enough evidence to justify you arrest. Work with an experienced defense lawyer now and begin working on an individualized defense approach based on the unique details of your Michigan DUI case. We are always available to begin working with clients statewide after a field sobriety test has been administered.
To speak with a drunk driving defense attorney, call 1-800-342-7896 now or contact our firm online. Set up a free initial case consultation with trial attorney Scott Grabel, who has personally worked in Michigan trial law for over a decade. We are ready to begin helping you fight for the best possible case result after a DUI or OWI charge.