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If you’ve been charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Colorado, understanding your rights and the strategies to challenge the evidence against you is crucial. One of the most common types of evidence used in DUI cases is field sobriety tests (FSTs). These tests are designed to assess a driver’s impairment level but are not foolproof.

Here, you can learn valuable tips for challenging field sobriety tests in Colorado DUI cases, helping you confidently navigate the legal process.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are standardized procedures law enforcement officers administer to determine a driver’s level of impairment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established specific guidelines for conducting these tests. The three most common FSTs used in Colorado are the following:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: This test assesses involuntary eye movements that occur when the eyes track an object horizontally. Officers look for jerking or bouncing eye movements, which can indicate impairment. Challenging this test involves questioning the officer’s training, the use of proper techniques, and potential medical conditions affecting eye movements.
  • Walk and Turn (WAT) Test: In this test, you must walk heel-to-toe along a straight line, turn, and walk back. Officers observe your balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions. Challenging this test involves highlighting environmental factors, physical limitations, officer errors, or demonstrating an alternative explanation for perceived impairment.
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS) Test: This test requires you to stand on one leg while counting aloud. Officers assess your balance, stability, and ability to follow instructions. Challenging this test involves questioning the officer’s training, environmental factors, and physical limitations and offering alternative explanations for any difficulties in maintaining balance.

Remember, consulting an experienced DUI defense attorney is crucial to effectively challenge these tests and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific case.

Challenging Field Sobriety Tests

Law enforcement officers commonly use field sobriety tests (FSTs) to evaluate a driver’s level of impairment during DUI (Driving Under the Influence) cases. However, these tests are not foolproof and can be challenging. Understanding the strategies for challenging field sobriety tests is essential if you’ve been charged with a DUI.

Establishing Lack of Probable Cause

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. In DUI cases, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to pull you over and conduct field sobriety tests. If there is no valid reason for the traffic stop or the officer cannot demonstrate probable cause, your attorney can challenge the admissibility of the evidence obtained during the stop, including the results of the FSTs.

Questioning Officer’s Training and Administration

Field sobriety tests require proper training and adherence to specific protocols. Officers must be adequately trained in administering and interpreting the tests. If your attorney can establish that the officer was not appropriately trained or failed to follow the standardized procedures during the administration of the tests, it can raise doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the results.

Highlighting Environmental Factors

Various environmental factors can significantly impact your performance on field sobriety tests. Uneven surfaces, poor lighting, inclement weather conditions, and distractions can all contribute to a driver’s perceived impairment. Your attorney can argue that the surrounding conditions were not conducive to accurately assessing your sobriety, potentially challenging the results of the FSTs.

Medical and Physical Conditions

Certain medical and physical conditions can affect your ability to perform field sobriety tests successfully. Conditions such as vertigo, inner ear disorders, leg or back injuries, and even fatigue can compromise your balance, coordination, and ability to perform the tests as expected. By presenting medical evidence and expert testimony, your attorney can challenge the reliability of the FST results and establish an alternative explanation for any perceived impairment.

The Subjectivity of Officer Interpretation

Field sobriety tests often rely on the subjective interpretation of the arresting officer. Different officers may have varying opinions on a driver’s performance, leading to inconsistencies in test results. Your attorney can argue that the officer’s interpretation is subjective and lacks scientific objectivity, further questioning the accuracy of the FSTs.

Expert Witness Testimony

Engaging the services of an expert witness who specializes in DUI cases can be immensely beneficial. An expert witness can review the details of your case, analyze the field sobriety test results, and provide an objective opinion regarding their reliability. Their testimony can carry significant weight in challenging the accuracy and validity of the FSTs during court proceedings.

Understanding Your Rights and Options When Facing Colorado DUI Charges

Challenging field sobriety tests in Colorado DUI cases is essential to protect your rights and build a strong defense strategy. By carefully examining the circumstances surrounding the administration of the tests and leveraging the expertise of your attorney and expert witnesses, you can cast doubt on the reliability of the FST results.

If you’re facing DUI charges in Colorado, consult an experienced DUI defense attorney from The Law Offices of Stephen J. Pisani. We will guide you through the legal process, explore all possible defenses, and work diligently to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Do you need legal services? Contact our office by calling (303) 529-2242. We can discuss your needs and schedule a consultation to help with your case.


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