What Are The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests? Am I Required To Perform Them?
When you get pulled over, if the officer smells the odor of an alcoholic beverage on your breath and think that you’ve been drinking, they will ask you to get out of the car to do the first test. They check your eyes for involuntary jerking of the eye. This test is called the horizontal gaze Nystagmus test. Sometimes officers will do this as a preliminarily test while you’re still seated in the car with your head turned to the side, which is not the way they should be doing this test, but they do it anyways. They will usually do it again once you’re out of the car. They will also have you do three standardized tests. One of the tests is the walk and turn, which is the heel to toe test. In the walk and turn, you take nine steps out, turn, and come back while counting out loud. Another test is the one leg stand test, which requires you to stand on one leg while counting. They will time you for 30 seconds, then stop you.
There are other tests that they will give you. You’ve seen them in movies, read about them, or heard about them. Sometimes there’s the finger count test. The Romberg balance test, which is head back, eyes closed for 30 seconds. And the touch the nose test. These three tests are given a lot less than they used to be. The three standardized field sobriety tests are the ones I see the most in Marin County and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most officers in Marin County do not use the other tests. I have seen some officers in San Rafael doing the touch the nose test, but not very often. We also see them do the passive alcohol device in Marin County and in San Rafael. The passive alcohol device is a device that is used to look for alcohol molecules. They will shine the device on you, and run it back and forth to help detect alcohol.
What Is The Difference Between The Roadside Breathalyzer Test And The Breathalyzer Test At The Station?
The roadside breath test is a preliminary test. It used to be very hard for the prosecution to use that test against you in court. But in Marin County, most of the judges will allow that preliminary test as evidence. We fight very hard to keep it out. If the procedures are not followed, sometimes we can keep it out. It’s important that we check the records on the machines and the procedure used in the admonishments, whether read or not read, to try and keep it out. However, the test that you do after that preliminary test, or if you decline to do the preliminary breath test, the breath or blood test you do after the arrest is the evidential test. That’s the one that the prosecutors are assuming they complied with; that the cops complied with procedures, and that the phlebotomist complied with procedures. If you can’t take those out on a motion, those will typically come in. Those are the ones that the DA’s office in Marin County will use.
The preliminary test matters when the prosecutor, the district attorney in Marin County, is looking at your case. They will often look to see whether your alcohol level was rising or falling. They may be less likely to offer a reduction in your case if that preliminary alcohol level is higher than the threshold where they like to reduce charges, even if the evidential test is in an area where they’re more willing to reduce charges. As a DUI drunk driving lawyer in Marin County, I investigate these cases and research these machines. I get the calibration records, maintenance records, and any logs that exist.
It’s important to get the accuracy checks of the machines used for breath testing and the records for blood testing as well. It means digging deep and asking the lab to provide the records on the machines, such as the chromatograph, which is used to test blood in cases when someone is arrested for DUI and does a blood draw. During the research, we’re looking for different issues with those machines. We’re looking to see what averages were used. We’re looking to see if they’re complying with rules and regulations, and we’re looking to see if they’re complying with their own lab’s regulations. Sometimes they set and change the regulations. Accordingly, they need to follow their own rules. Rules are very important for this. We hold these organizations, whether it’s the police or the labs, whoever’s calibrating machines, to these standards.
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