Flaws in Roadside DUI Tests
Every police officer must justify their arrest, which means they need credible evidence to support their reasoning for pulling you over on drunk driving suspicion. Unfortunately, the popular field sobriety test is a thinly-veiled way to get a citizen to incriminate themselves to allow an officer a justified reason for arrest and subsequent blood-alcohol content (BAC) test.
The Rosenstein Law Group has had significant success in getting evidence from these tests excluded, as well as challenging the BAC evidence itself. To find out how our Tempe based DUI lawyers can help you win your case or reduce your penalties statewide, call us immediately, day or night, for a free consultation at 480-248-7666.
Don't Help the State Make Its Case
Little known fact: When an officer asks you to step out of your vehicle and perform a field sobriety test, (FST) it is unwise to do so. Declining this FST will not result in a driver's license suspension, and only minimally against you in court.
You do not win any points for submitting to an FST. It is impossible for the officer, even if you "pass", to note a "pass" in his report, because by definition, the tests are not passable. However, they will gladly record any stumble, mumble, sway, or misstep if that means "failure" and therefore, support for his case. Common roadside sobriety tests include:
- The Pen Test, or horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) - tracking your eye movement as the officer waves a pen in front of your face.
- Balancing tests - the classic "walk and turn", standing on one leg, or touching your finger to your nose with closed eyes.
- Number/letter recitation - e.g., say the alphabet, counting backwards from 1,000.
- Dexterity tests - making you close one finger at a time
If you've already submitted to one of these tests and "failed", don't lose hope. Attorney Craig Rosenstein has often successfully convinced courts to exclude evidence from FSTs, especially if the officer showed a special reliance on any one test. Since the officer does not know you, there are several explanations for the results of your FST other than intoxication; medications, physical impairments, weather conditions and fatigue, or even simple fear.
Implied Consent: Blood or Breath Samples
Regardless of the reasonability of an officer's suspicion, your Arizona driver's license is basically a contract that mandates you to provide a sample of your breath or blood to determine if you are legally drunk. Unlike FSTs, failure to comply with blood or breath tests will result in license suspension for one year, even if you later go on to win your DUI case. Even if you do decline these tests, it is very likely that a magistrate will grant a warrant to forcibly remove your blood for testing.
However, a BAC reading of .08 or greater is not the end of the world. We will review all procedures to discern if there is a good basis to challenge the results. Was the officer even justified in pulling you over? If not, then your test results may be excluded. Did the state lab only test one sample? We can run a test with an independent lab. We also have an expert team on call that can discover any flaws with the Breathalyzer machine itself, or if the administration of the test resulted in a artificially high reading.