What Every College Student Should Know about Field Sobriety Tests during a DUI Investigation [Part II]

Posted on: 08 Oct, 2014

This is the second installment in our two-part blog that is intended to provide answers to common questions asked about field sobriety tests in Kansas DUI cases. If you have not yet had an opportunity to review Part I of this blog, we invite you to read Part I before reading this installment. Although we have answered some of the common questions we hear about field sobriety tests, we invite you to contact us with specific questions about your case.

If I feel sober enough should I perform the tests so that the police officer is less likely to arrest me because I am not cooperating?

It is important to understand that DUI suspects may not be lawfully arrested because they do not provide “cooperation” that they are not lawfully required to provide to a law enforcement officer conducting a DUI investigation. Police officers are not looking for the factual truth when they have a suspect perform field sobriety tests. The officer is expecting you to fail and watching closely for a basis to find that you have failed so that he or she can arrest you. Suspects will almost always fail FSTs because the officer has already determined that the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Since the officer is the test proctor and evaluator, it is hardly surprising when the officer determines that the suspect did not pass.

The point to take away is that you really have nothing to gain by performing these tests so you generally should opt out. The officer is simply trying to acquire enough evidence against you so that he can lawfully arrest you for DUI. Given that this is the officer’s basis for having you participate in FSTs, there usually is no good reason to agree to undergo field sobriety testing.

What defenses may be used to dispute FST results?

The list of relevant defenses and arguments against FST results is extensive, but some examples of common grounds that FST results may be attacked include:

Inaccurate or incomplete instructions and demonstration by the officer
Lack of appropriate training in performing FSTs
Illness or physical injury
Vertigo or lack of coordination
Unfamiliar and awkward movements
High rates of false indications of impairment in NHTSA studies
Poor conditions uneven ground, darkness, wet slippery concrete
Improper scoring of the tests by the officer
Self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e. the officer expects failure)
Diabetes or other conditions involving unregulated blood sugar
Fatigue or drowsiness from insufficient sleep

While this is hardly a complete list of all defense strategies that may be employed to question the reliability and accuracy of FSTs, this provides a clear illustration of the many ways an experienced Kansas DUI attorney can effectively attack field sobriety testing so that a judge or jury recognizes that these tests do not provide persuasive evidence of intoxication.

At our Kansas DUI defense law firm, we recognize the harsh consequences of a Kansas driving under the influence conviction and work diligently to protect our clients’ driver’s license, freedom and reputation. We invite you to contact our office and discuss your situation with Kansas DUI attorney Sarah G. Swain without fear of being judged. The initial consultation is free and confidential. Call us today at 785-842-2787 or toll free at 866-550-2787.