How To Win Your DWI Case When Faced With A Failed Sobriety Test
Fail your sobriety test, and you will be arrested for a DWI; there are no two ways about it, and that is why most people decline the test.
Most prosecutors will try and milk the cow that failed or refused SFST arguing that the accused refused to take the SFST (Standardized Field Sobriety Test) because they were drunk and knew they would not pass the test.
For the defense side, the line of argument is geared towards convincing the jury that the field sobriety tests are illogical because people are bound to fail them, be they drunk or sober. In short, the defense team will strive to prove the tests are biased and thus give the accused a fighting chance in the face of evidence such as a bad SFST video. Well, with the assistance of an experienced DWI lawyer, even a failed SFST can be defended in court.
Below are some of the effective ways of defending you against a failed SFST in a DWI case:
1. The HGN Test
The HGN (Horizontal Gaze and Nystagmus) test has its foundations comically aligned to the slogan “here goes nothing,” which DWI guru Jim Butler likes using when in front of the jury.
Few police officers can correctly administer the HGN test primarily because a majority of them never learned the right way of doing it; as such, only 5 out of 100 of such exams are done correctly. If an office that does not know how to administer the test correctly teaches fellow officers, then they are all going to get it wrong. At times, a police officer may have been taught how to go about it the right way, but some become lazy and fail to adhere to what they were taught.
Moreover, failing the HGN test can also be attributed to other reasons that can be biological, medical, or environmental thus having little to do with your alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, the police, as well as the prosecution, will not consider such things during the DWI case. That means that you are most likely going to jail because your eyes jerk during the HGN test, irrespective of the actual cause.
2. The Walk And Turn
For this particular test, you are required to stand heel to toe and have your arms at your side. You are then asked to put one foot in front of the other, heel to toe while maintaining your arms at your side and not losing the heel-to-toe footing. The entire process can last more than ninety seconds as the office tries to explain the instructions for the test, all the while fatigue is building up.
Make the, unfortunately, mistake of stepping out of the expected position and the police will use that as evidence when charging you with DWI. To beat the charges of intoxication, you will need to present two things are shown errors in the process. Moreover, the heel and toe must not be in a position that exceeds half an inch; such a position is hard to keep on the side of the road especially when you are standing on gravel. It also is not easy to maintain it if the police are blinding you with a flashlight, or if an 18-wheeler drives by unexpectedly.
The issue with the walk and turn test is that it is not clear what your performance is based on; which is a resounding factor in all of the field sobriety tests. So, if the 18-wheeler cause you to fumble, will your performance be based on that? What if you were sober while taking a walk-and-turn test and the big rig passed by causing you to lose your footing, how will the police or prosecution know that you were not drunk and failing the sobriety test was due to a different force?
3. The One-Leg Stand
To perform this test, you stand with your feet together and your arms on your sides. You will then pick up one leg, raising it to about six inches from the ground with the feet pointing forward. The officer will then request you to count out loud until he or she says when to stop all the while assessing and timing you for thirty seconds. The police officer will use that period to record the various intoxication clues that you may show.
During those thirty seconds, you should use your arms, put your foot down, or even sway a bit. You could as well hop without knowing what it is the office is looking for; all you will hear is what you should do. For instance, you may put your foot down, and the cop will ask you to pick it up again and fail to inform you that lowering it down will serve as proof of intoxication. So, from a defense point, the jury will be made aware that such a thing implies that it is okay to lower your foot if you feel you are losing your balance. It means you are aware of your sense, but it also makes you score a point against yourself. Now, how fair is that?
4. Analyzing Blood Or Breath Test Evidence
Besides being asked to take the tests mentioned above, the police offer may request you to take a breath or blood test to assess the alcohol level in your blood.
National protocols are in place regarding the use of blood and breath test and are supported by scientific evidence. Similarly, police protocols for the same also exist but are often of lower standards than the national protocols. As such, DWI lawyers are keen on knowing blood and breath testing procedures and also advise clients to be familiar with the same when facing DWI charges.
Any effective breathalyzer should have filters that can detect and distinguish other chemicals from being falsely read and interfering with the results. However, that is often not the outcome of most of these devices. As a result, there are inaccuracies that are attributed to both machine malfunctions and human error. At times, medical or biological factors can also lead to inaccurate readings, for instance, burping when taking the breath test. Also, poor maintenance of the breathalyzers can also be at fault for the wrong results.
As a lawyer that handles DWI cases, I know the significance of convincing the jury of the inaccuracies associated with most sobriety tests. Moreover, never assume that the police officer is only doing his or her job. Whether you are drunk or sober, hiring a qualified and experienced DWI attorney will be in your best interest.