Colorado DUI Defense: Challenging Field Sobriety Tests
As you probably know, a DUI conviction can carry severe penalties: Loss of a driver’s license, huge fines and jail time are some of the more tangible consequences, while damage to relationships and career can also result. Since a roadside sobriety test is often the basis for a DUI arrest, it is important to understand the role that these tests can play in a conviction. In some situations, challenging a field sobriety test is an important part of an effective defense.
Subjective Tests, Decisive Defense
Many people think a field sobriety test is a matter of walking a straight line at the request of a law enforcement officer. In reality, when a driver is pulled over by an officer, that officer begins making observations and judgments about the driver long before any kind of actual testing is done. In addition to noting concerns about driving behavior, the officer will observe the manner in which a driver responds to initial questions and gets out of the vehicle, with both verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as any perceived smell of alcohol, being taken into account. When DUI traffic stops occur at night — and they most often do — the visual perception and reflexes of a driver (and an officer) may be compromised without regard to intoxication. In short, numerous driver behaviors and responses can be misread by an officer as signs of intoxication and used as grounds for criminal charges.
With so many subjective elements involved in field testing — and so much at stake if you have been charged with DUI — you need a lawyer with the ability to question test assumptions, methods and outcomes.