The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) indicates that more than 26,000 people are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) every year in Colorado. When law enforcement officers believe that a driver is drunk or high, they may request that the driver engage in field sobriety testing. Many people have questions about the field sobriety tests and how they are used to determine whether a driver is drunk. The information below is intended to answer the most frequently asked of these questions. Of course, for specific information about your case, call one of our experienced DUI defense attorneys.
What is the Standardized Field Sobriety Test?
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is actually a battery of three tests that was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Southern California Research Institute. The tests that make up the SFST are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn test.
Can you “pass” the SFST?
The fact that the SFST is referred to as a “test” makes many people believe that it can be passed or failed. In reality, it is used mainly as an evidence gathering tool in order for an officer to support his or her assertion that a driver is intoxicated. In most cases, the officer asking you to perform the test has already made a determination regarding a driver’s sobriety long before he or she asked the driver to take the test.
Is the SFST accurate?
According to NHTSA, the SFST helps law enforcement officers determine whether a person is over the legal limit 91 percent of the time. This number is misleading, however, as it assumes that the officer administered the test does so properly and is adequately trained to interpret the results. In many cases, problems with the way that the test is administered can keep the results from being used as evidence against you.
Can an attorney help me even if I voluntarily took the SFST?
Yes. An attorney can almost always help people accused of DUI, even if they submitted to roadside sobriety testing. The vast majority of DUI cases are settled without a trial and involve the prosecutor recommending a reduced sentence to the judge in exchange for a guilty plea. An attorney can usually help negotiate a plea agreement with more favorable terms than a defendant would be able to secure without the representation of an experienced attorney.
Contact a Denver DUI defense lawyer today to schedule a free consultation
People who have been accused of drunk driving should retain an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can often bring a criminal case to a much better resolution that an unrepresented defendant would be able to secure. There may be legal defenses available even if you were actually intoxicated or performed poorly on any field sobriety testing that was conducted. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Denver criminal attorneys, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm today at (303) DUI-5280.