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DUI Criminal Charges and Field Sobriety Tests

Indianapolis DUI lawyer and DUI defenses attorney

DUI Criminal Charges and Field Sobiety Tests: Even the Police Get it Wrong Sometimes

13 WTHR in Indianapolis has an interesting article on a DUI investigation in Carmel, Indiana. The individual was arrested for driving while intoxicated even after passing the DUI field sobriety tests. This just shows that even officers get it wrong and it is a perfect example of why everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

http://www.wthr.com/article/testing-the-limits-did-suspicion-go-too-far

DUI Field Sobriety Tests – Why They are Not Perfect

If an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you are intoxicated, he or she may ask you to perform Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). These are usually the Nine Step Walk and Turn test, the One Leg Stand and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN).

For the HGN, the officer will ask you to follow a pen or his finger with your eyes. He will track your eyes to look for cues for intoxication. The One Leg Stand test requires you to stand on one foot for 30 seconds while counting out loud. The Nine Step Walk and Turn test requires you to walk in a straight line while touching your feet heel to toe and turn on your feet and walk back. There are a few other tests that they officer may use, as well.

However, in order for the officer to ask you to complete these tests, he or she must have cause to believe you are intoxicated. They cannot simply ask anyone to take the tests. 

Additionally, the tests must be conducted following very strict protocols, and if not, may be suppressed by the court or limited at trial. They are simply not reliable if not done properly (and some would argue they are not reliable even when they are done properly). 

DUI Criminal Charges and Field Sobriety Tests: Often Based on Subjective Observations

When the officer is conducting field sobriety tests, they are supposed to look for specific clues of intoxication. However, as you can see from the story above, those are based on the officers subjective observations. The officer may see a failed test, or slurred speech or unsteady balance while another person, viewing the situation from an objective vantage point, does not. This isn’t necessarily because the officer is lying or being untruthful, but possibly because an officer’s job is to look for illegal behavior and he or she may see clues of intoxication even if they are not really there, leading to charges for DUI when the person is not intoxicated at all. 

 Charged with DUI or OVWI? Call Chambers Law Office today! 

If you are facing charges for DUI or OVWI in central Indiana, including Marion, Hamilton, Johnson, Madison, Hendricks or Boone counties, Chambers Law Office can help. Attorney Julie Chambers is a former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor and has experience prosecuting and defending both criminal and traffic cases. Contact Chambers Law Office today to speak with a lawyer and discuss your case. 

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