Challenging A DUI Sobriety Test In Colorado

Challenging a DUI Sobriety Test – Can It Be Done?

In Colorado, as in other arear throughout the US, field sobriety tests (FSTs) are commonly used by law enforcement officers to establish probable cause for the arrest of individuals suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.

These tests typically include a series of physical and cognitive tasks designed to assess a person’s impairment. Common tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk-and-Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test.

Challenging a DUI sobriety test can be a critical component of a DUI defense strategy in DUI cases. Here are several ways in which challenging a DUI sobriety test can be successful.

Questioning the Administration of the Field Sobriety Test

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established specific guidelines for administering field sobriety tests. An experienced Colorado Springs  DUI defense attorney can challenge the validity of the test results if these protocols were not strictly followed.

For example, tests must be conducted on a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface. Inadequate lighting or poor weather conditions can also affect the accuracy of the tests.

Officer Training – The administering officer must be properly trained to conduct FSTs and to interpret the results accurately. A lack of training or improper application of the training can be grounds for questioning the reliability of the test results.

Physical or Medical Conditions For Challenging a DUI Sobriety Test

People with physical or medical conditions that affect balance, coordination, or eyesight can perform poorly on field sobriety tests regardless of alcohol consumption.

Conditions such as inner ear problems, leg injuries, or neurological disorders can be used to challenge the appropriateness of administering these tests and the accuracy of the results.

Age or obesity can also impair an individual’s ability to perform physical tasks required by some FSTs.

Subjectivity in Evaluation

The results of field sobriety tests can be highly subjective. Different officers may interpret the same performance in different ways. The subjective nature of the evaluations can be challenged, especially if there is no video evidence to support the officer’s interpretation.

Improper Instructions and Demonstrations For A Field Sobriety Test

If the officer failed to provide clear and accurate instructions or demonstrations for the tests, the results might be considered invalid. This aspect can be particularly significant if the driver was confused about what was expected during the test.

External Factors In Challenging A Field Sobriety Test

External factors in challenging a field sobriety test such as distracting environments (e.g., passing traffic, headlights, noise), inappropriate footwear, or clothing that restricts movement can all impact a person’s performance on field sobriety tests.

Demonstrating that such factors were present can help undermine the credibility of the test results.

Use of Non-Standardized Tests

While there are three standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) endorsed by the NHTSA, officers sometimes use additional non-standardized tests. The reliability and validity of these non-standardized tests are more easily contested in court.

Video Evidence In A Field Sobriety Test

Video recordings from police dash cams or body cams can be invaluable in challenging a DUI field sobriety test. Video evidence can provide an objective record to counter an officer’s subjective reporting and can demonstrate any deviations from standard testing protocols.

To challenge field sobriety tests effectively, you really need the best DUI defense attorney who thoroughly understands both the legal and scientific aspects of DUI charges.

An experienced DUI attorney can scrutinize the circumstances for challenging a DUI sobriety test and the qualifications of the officer, and they may engage expert witnesses to testify about the unreliability of the tests under certain conditions.

Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer who has defended many DUI cases can be pivotal in reducing or dismissing charges based on DUI arrests.




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