Defense Attorneys Attacking Field Sobriety Tests
Well-qualified defense lawyers have the skill and passion for attacking evidence that is improper or inaccurate. Police officers routinely fail to instruct drivers properly on field sobriety tests and fail to correctly score the results.
The Prosecution Has the Advantage
The standard for an officer to testify regarding field sobriety tests in Michigan has been lowered to assist the prosecution in securing convictions at trial. The major problem with the new law is that it allows officers to testify regarding non-standardized field sobriety tests. In other words, the officer can subject a driver to various tests that are not vetted to determine if there is any legitimate correlation between the subject’s performance on the test and a level of impairment.
There are only three standardized field sobriety tests. The HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn, and one-leg stand). These tests are standardized because all officers are supposed to perform the tests, give instructions, and grade the results in the same way. Tests have confirmed that three is some correlation between a driver’s performance on the standardized field sobriety tests and a driver’s impairment.
The new statute reads as follows:
Testimony of a person qualified in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests.
A person who is qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, shall be allowed to testify subject to a showing of a proper foundation of qualifications. This section does not preclude the admissibility of a nonstandardized field sobriety test if it complies with the Michigan rules of evidence.
Tests are Designed to Make the Driver Fail
Officers do all kinds of crazy tests, and no one knows if they have any meaning. When the officer has a driver perform a test with no standardization, there is no uniform manner of testing or grading. An officer is conducting an intoxicated driver is looking for evidence of intoxication; he or she is NOT an objective judge of the test results or accuracy of the instructions given to the operator. It is fair to say that most of the tests are designed to get the driver to fail.
New laws passed to make it easier to obtain convictions to raise the likelihood of the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. Most people do not realize that, as compared to many types of crimes, effective defense in an OWI, DUI, or OWPD case demands the most experienced criminal defense lawyers. The partners and associates with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have been successfully defending alcohol and drug-related driving charges in Michigan for decades.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.