Understanding The Tests Used To Determine If You Were Driving Under The Influence

As far as the author knows, Mr. Holcomb was the first civilian in Hawaii to obtain certification as a NHTSA field sobriety testing instructor.  You need an expert in this area because field sobriety tests are often the most important evidence in the case.

Field Sobriety Tests are one of the most commonly known (and misunderstood) indicators of sobriety.  Historically, the limits of which field sobriety “tests” would be administered and of what those “tests” consist were defined solely by the police officer’s imagination.  Due to the obvious lack of uniformity and questionable results of such “tests” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the NHTSA) standardized Field Sobriety Tests in an effort to ensure reliable results.

Only three tests were standardized by the NHTSA.  The NHTSA concluded that the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk-and-Turn, and One-Leg Stand would serve as reliable indicators of intoxication.  The NHTSA then tested the effectiveness of these tests to determine whether:  the tests were reliable indicators of intoxication, the tests could be used to estimate a suspect’s blood alcohol content (BAC), and “failing” the tests could identify suspects whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit.

The NHTSA also studied the feasibility of employing these tests in the field and regulates the procedures, instructions, and scoring of the tests in an attempt to ensure reliability. 

Because of the standardization of these three tests and because law enforcement receives training from the NHTSA, the three tests are almost always administered at every DUI or OVUII traffic stop.  Because they are nationally-standardized and the procedures, instructions, clues and scoring must be performed and interpreted accurately and correctly in order to ensure reliability, those tests may prove to be a very important aspect of defending your case.

Additionally, law enforcement officers occasionally continue to use non-standardized field sobriety tests.  Those tests include the finger to nose test, the finger count test, the hand pat test, the alphabet test, the reverse counting test, and the coin pickup test.  Many of those tests have been approved by law enforcement organizations such as the National Park Service and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (I.A.C.P.).  Obviously, the procedures, instructions, clues and scoring are also vitally important in the administration of those tests.

Because these tests are supposed to be standardized according to the federal government, the instructions you received and other details of the test are crucial.  If the police do not instruct you properly, do not have appropriate certification or training, grade the tests improperly or you are not qualified to take the tests, the affect of the results should at least diminish in the mind of the judge.  You should write down what you remember happening immediately after your arrest. 

Know Your Rights By Calling A Skilled DUI Attorney First

Mr. Holcomb is well-prepared to litigate whether your Field Sobriety Tests were administered and the results interpreted properly. As in all drunk driving related cases, the best results are obtained when you contact a skilled Honolulu DUI lawyer like Rick Holcomb.