DUI FST Defenses

Phoenix DUI Lawyer – Defense for DUI Charges and Field Sobriety Testing

Defense for DUI Standard Field Sobriety Test Evidence in Arizona

Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST)

Field Sobriety Tests and Standard Field Sobriety Testing are not mandatory or required in Arizona. Most criminal attorneys who defend DUI charges will advise defendants not to agree to the Field Sobriety Testing, since they are inaccurate, and usually are used as additional evidence against the defendant. If during your DUI stop and investigation, you did, however, agree to the test, there may be defenses that can be used to get the FSTs evidence dismissed or suppressed from being used against you in court by the prosecution. To be successful you will need to retain legal representation by an experienced DUI lawyer who challenges Field Sobriety Tests for Phoenix AZ DUI charges frequently.

Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST)Defenses in Arizona

The Law Office of James Novak, DUI and Criminal Defense Firm, often challenges DUI Field Sobriety Tests due to their subjective nature, and history of inaccuracies related to the FST results. Below are examples of areas that your Phoenix DUI Lawyer may challenge in your defense:

  • Instructions for SFST – The police must provide proper instructions and make sure the suspect understands them before administering the FST;
  • Administration of the SFST – The police officer must administer the test in precise accordance with the NHSTA guidelines;
  • Non-Standardized Tests - If the officer administers tests that were not standard or recognized by NHTSA’s DUI testing, the results of those FSTs may be suppressed or dismissed from being used against you in court;
  • Inaccurate Standard FST Results – Even the Standard NHTSA Field Test results have a high rate of inaccuracies. They may be invalid for a number of reasons. For example, some studies indicate that in healthy unimpaired individuals the one-leg stand is only 65% accurate; the walk-and-turn found to be only 68% accurate; injuries and medical conditions impact the accuracy; person over weight by 50 pounds or more; and 65 years or older may produce misinterpreted, and inaccurate test results;
  • Location and Landscape - The NHTSA guidelines specify certain conditions which must exist for landscaping and location in order to achieve optimal test result validity. The FSTs should not be conducted on a slope; rough terrain; uneven surface; rocky; slippery; ice, fresh oil, heavy snow; or near heavy traffic;
  • Apparel: Certain shoes, boots, heals or clothing worn by the suspect may constrict their mobility and produce unreliable FST results;
  • Coordination and Ability – Studies have shown that many police officers will improperly evaluate a sober or non-impaired person as drunk or impaired. But many persons vary in their abilities related to balance, coordination, health and fitness;
  • Experience of the Police Officer – Some police officers may lack the experience needed to properly instruct, administer, conduct, or grade the test precisely to NHTSA guidelines. The officers are required to take specific training and earn accreditation to become eligible to conduct the test. But despite training and education; there is no substitute for the advantage of experience needed to promote a greater percentage of accuracy and validity;
  • Climate and Weather Conditions Poor –The police don’t always document poor climate or weather conditions that existed during the administration of the FST. This is important because according to NHTSA studies, the tests should not be conducted during severe conditions. Under severe weather such as high winds; heavy rain; snow; or hail, a person may be inhibited from preforming optimally, and result in poor or inaccurate test results. Thus the poor test results may result from those conditions rather than the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Poor Conditions, lighting, equipment, or angle for the “HGN” Eye Test – The HGN test stands for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. This is an eye test that medical doctors often use to diagnose or detect specific eye disorders such as Nystagmus. Many unimpaired drivers suffer from Nystagmus, which is an involuntary, rapid movement of one or both eyes. It can be congenital or acquired. It is not always caused by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For this test, medical doctors require precise lighting, angle, and equipment that measures involuntary jerking of the eye, when a person is impaired by alcohol. This test can be challenged as invalid or not related to drug or alcohol induced impairment; under almost all roadside and lighting conditions;
  • Field Sobriety Test Refusal - Studies historically and consistently show that DUI FSTs are difficult for many impaired individuals to pass. With such a low validity rate, the FST can only strengthen the police and prosecution evidence against you. The reason and defense for refusal should be that you prefer not to take the FST because you were not impaired; and that since validity and accuracy of FSTs results was low, you do not want these inaccuracies to suggest otherwise.

DUI Lawyer Phoenix AZ

Field Sobriety Testing is one of the most commonly used DUI defenses. A skilled and experienced impaired driving attorney will know how to raise these challenges effectively based on the circumstances of your case. James Novak, has a great deal of experience evaluating field sobriety test results, and making sure your rights were not violated. Call The Law Office of James Novak, PLLC and speak with James Novak about your charges at (480) 413-1499.