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How Are Roadside Tests Types Utilized

How Are Roadside Tests Types Utilized

There are two main types of Field Sobriety Tests that are used by police officers when they find reasonable cause to ascertain whether a driver is  driving drunk These are the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. These are divided attention steps for the most part, that can conclude whether the driver is “sober enough” to accomplish the task of listening for directions and completing a task at the same time.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests include tests such as the one-leg stand, the HGN test, and the walk and turn. These tests are universally used throughout police departments in the United States. The results can give the officer the right to arrest someone on suspicion of drunk driving with the possibility of further testing to come.  The one-leg stand test is based on the ability for the person to be able to stand on one leg 6 inches above the ground and perform another task such as counting out loud, and then switching legs.
The HGN or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, focuses on the ability of the driver to be able to follow an object horizontally with their eyes in a smooth motion. Finally, the walk and turn test evaluates the ability of the person to be able to walk heel to toe in a straight line (maintaining balance) for a number of steps while perhaps counting the steps out loud. The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are used both by the officers to make an arrest, and in a court of law as presentable evidence for a prosecution or defense. 
Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are additional tests that an officer can administer along with standardized ones. Unfortunately, sometimes an officer will only use these tests to determine whether or not to make an arrest. This can be a bad situation for a person who is sober and wrongfully accused, but can be used as a defense method and court. This is due to the fact that non-standardized tests can be challenged for validity because of their lack of use uniformly. 
Some examples of Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are finger counting, alphabet reciting (forwards/backwards) or counting backwards, and standing with feet together while tilting head backwards. During a finger counting test, the officer may ask the person to point at the fingers in their opposite hand with their index finger and count out loud as they point at each one, repeating with other hand. The alphabet reciting is a common non-standardized test, in which the person is told to recite part of the alphabet usually. There are rumors circulating that an officer can ask people to recite it backwards, but its validity would hold up in court even less. This is due to the fact that some people can’t do such a task sober. 
The results of Field Sobriety Tests or the refusal to participate in them can result in an arrest. After the arrest is made the person can be subject to further testing such as a breathalyzer or blood and urine samples. The breathalyzer test can be given at the police station, and the blood and urine samples are usually administered through a hospital under police supervision. In some cases, the officer will give the breathalyzer on the spot prior to arrest to reach a decision. This can be if he feels the person cannot perform the SFSTs in an inebriated or sober condition due to some physical or mental issue.

Importance of Roadside Tests In Court

Importance of Roadside Tests In Court

Field Sobriety Tests are the best method through which a police officer can establish a reasonable cause to demonstrate whether or not a driver is drunk. The results of the tests give the officer probable cause under which they can arrest the person and charge them with DUI. The outcome of an FST can be very valuable to a defense or prosecution in a court of law for their case.
In a court of law, the FSTs can be used by the prosecution to further incriminate a suspect and give them a lesser chance of defense. For a subject who was arrested on a DUI charged and failed most if not all of the standardized/non-standardized field tests, there is little to try to defend oneself against. The judges are clear on the physical and mental concentration that these tests have imposed on the individual at the time of them being administered. If the driver fails most or all of them, they have little to go on in their defense case unless they are impaired by a mental or physical condition. If the driver failed only one or two parts of the test, the prosecution will try to argue in the importance and significance of that specific test as well as the officer’s report on the subject. 
The best weapon for the prosecution is the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, where the best weapon for the defense are the Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in addition to the SFTSTs. The defense can provide a much stronger argument if the person charged was told to engage in non-standardized tests. THe SFTSTs serve as a universal standard for law enforcement agencies, therefore the tests can be challenged less in a court of law for their accuracy. The NSFTSTs vary greatly amongst departments, and because of their individuality can be argued in favor of the defense if they are used to charge or further incriminate a person. These tests can vary greatly depending on which one the specific department or officer chose to administer, and their professional judgment can be argued and invalidated. However, this is not the only area where the defense can present a case to argue validity. 
For example people over a certain age or weight may not be able to perform certain standardized tests due to their physical capabilities. This can cause them to fail the tests while they are completely sober, and be wrongfully accused and arrested. This can also pertain to a person with perhaps a recent surgery, or leg problem, such as joint weakness.  Another case is presented for people with special conditions due to a medical issue such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or vision loss. Drivers can also be subject to impairment if they are given sedatives by a doctor, this can also cause the officer to believe they are drunk.  
The contributions that Field Sobriety Tests can make in a case are of high importance to both sides. The results they have can have serious implications on a case, and are counted on as a reliable source of information to be presented in a case.

Guide to Understanding Roadside Tests

Guide to Understanding Roadside Tests

Background
Roadside tests were created to give officers a chance to legally be able to convert their reasonable cause in a DUI suspicion, to probable cause for arrest for DUI. The roadside tests have a set of general tests (Standardized Field Sobriety Tests) that are used to determine whether or not the driver is intoxicated. 
These tests asses the divided attention of the driver to be able to perform a physical action while concentrating on something else and be able to follow instructions. Examples of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests include the one-leg stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. Some police departments/officers administer Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that can help them make a firmer decision, but may be later inadmissible or argued in court.


Importance in Court
Field Sobriety Tests have a high importance in the court of law. They can favor the case of a prosecutor or a defense. In the case of the prosecutor, the performance of the driver during the tests (if no medical/physical/psychological condition existed) can help portray the level of inebriation the person had at the time of arrest. 
An example would be a person who is drunk and completely falls over during the walk and turn, or one-leg stand tests. These tests have also been of great benefit to a defense as well, especially if something impeded the person from performing the tests at the time of arrest. This would be in the case of a person that was overweight, or had a medical condition that prevented them from being able to take part in the physical aspect of the tests. These tests are of great value to both parties in a court, depending on the situation.
Types Utilized
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are the customary sobriety tests performed during a traffic stop if there is suspicion of DUI. These tests are conducted by the police officer and the driver outside of the vehicle in a safe area. They are designed to test the divided attention skills of the driver to determine their condition of inebriation or lack thereof.  
Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are similar in composition, except they are not the universally used ones across the nation, therefore they are subject to argument in court.  However, they are still used by officers in order to assist them in their decision making. An officer can also use a breathalyzer test roadside to determine the driver’s BAC level to make or confirm their decision to arrest the person for DUI.
Arguments Against Nature of Roadside Tests
Roadside tests have been under scrutiny for the nature of the process they take. Most people argue that they do more harm rather than benefit. The Field Sobriety Tests assist officers in making an educated decision of whether or not a subject may be drunk, but can also be inaccurate. The disregard by many officers of people’s physical, medical, and psychological conditions leads to people failing the tests while completely sober. Also, the refusal by people of painful physical conditions, can result in them being wrongfully accused and arrested. 
This has created much controversy especially in cases where there is no verification made via breathalyzer test prior to the arrest being made. The lack of confirmation prior to arrest leads many people to believe their rights have been violated, especially if they face a special condition.