Drunk driving allegations are quite serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, a criminal conviction on such charges can leave you dealing with stiff penalties, including jail or prison time, extensive fines, and license suspension or revocation. These penalties can affect nearly every aspect of your life, from maintaining your job to preserving your relationship with your children. With a lot hanging in the balance when charged with DUI, you need to be prepared to mount a strong criminal defense.
One way to do this is to challenge the results of field sobriety tests. Our state recognizes a number of these tests, including the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand tests, but they certainly are not without their flaws.
As an example, let’s consider the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Here, a law enforcement officer holds a finger or pen a certain distance in front of your face and requests that you follow it with your eyes, without turning your head, as he or she moves it from side-to-side. The officer will look for certain indicators of intoxication, which may include jerking eyes, a lack of smooth movement in the eyes when following the object, and failing to abide by instructions.
Yet, police officers make a lot of errors when administering field sobriety tests. They give poor instructions, fail to clarify whether drivers have medical conditions that could account for their eye movements, and simply inaccurately record their observations during the test. It’s sad to say, but some officers straight up lie about their observations of intoxication.
These faults leave the door open for legal arguments. But to be successful, you need to know the law and how to utilize it to your benefit, whether that means negotiating a plea deal, suppressing evidence, or challenging field sobriety test results. You’ll need to engage in adequate trial preparation, which may include thoroughly analyzing police reports, conducting depositions, and even securing experts to testify on your behalf. If this sounds enormously challenging, don’t worry. Competent criminal defense attorneys stand ready to assist you in your fight against overly aggressive prosecutors and the threat to your life that they pose.