Defense Attorneys Attacking Field Sobriety Tests
Well-qualified defense lawyers have the skill and passion necessary to attack improper or inaccurate evidence. Police officers routinely fail to instruct drivers properly on field sobriety tests and fail to score the results correctly.
The Prosecution Has the Advantage
Michigan lowered the standard for a police officer to testify regarding field sobriety tests to assist the prosecution in securing convictions at trial. The major problem with the new law is that it allows officers to testify regarding nonstandardized field sobriety tests. In other words, an officer conducting an OWI investigation 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. Given Michigan’s efforts to make it easier for prosecutors to get OWI convictions, it becomes more important than ever for skilled defense lawyers to attack field sobriety tests.
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
Testimony of a person qualified in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests.
A person 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 conducting an intoxicated driver is looking for evidence of intoxication; they are NOT an objective judge of the test results or accuracy of the instructions given to the operator. It is fair to say that most tests are designed to get the driver to fail.
Experienced OWI Defense Attorney
Michigan’s new laws make it easier to obtain convictions and 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 OWI defense lawyers. The partners and associates with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully defended against alcohol and drug-related driving charges in Michigan for decades.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.