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Do Field Sobriety Tests Accurately Measure Your Level of Impairment?

Located in Contra Costa County, California, Pinole is a city with approximately 20,000 residents. “Pinole” is a Native American term for a type of flour made from maize and other grains. From relatively humble beginnings, Pinole has grown into a thriving community, assisted by the establishment of California Powder Works in nearby Hercules and, of course the Southern Pacific Railroad.

If you are a resident of Pinole, California, you may have stopped off at the Bar None on Tara Hills Drive after a long day at work to play pool, listen to the karaoke on Saturday nights, watch a ball game, and have a drink. Or perhaps you prefer Chuck’s Corner, located at 610 San Pablo Avenue with its easygoing atmosphere, live bands, and exceptional mixed drinks.

Whatever your choice for an after-work or weekend hangout, what you may not expect is to be stopped as you head home, then arrested on DUI charges. If you took Appian Way or Mann Drive, you may have encountered a DUI checkpoint, or perhaps a police officer thought the way you were driving indicated you might have been drinking.

The DUI Attorney Pinole Residents Depend On

Perhaps the officer told you he or she was going to administer a series of field sobriety tests after you were pulled over. You may not have realized that, under California law, you are not required to participate in field sobriety tests, and have the right to refuse with no penalties.

To learn about your rights and to get a DUI lawyer to aggressively attack the prosecution’s case against you, call Attorney Nabiel C. Ahmed at (510) 907-6600 or fill out our short online form today.

The Unreliability of Field Sobriety Tests

If you did participate, it is important that you tell your Pinole DUI attorney every single thing you can remember about those tests. A significant body of research has determined field sobriety tests are an unreliable method of determining impairment. In fact, as far back as the late 1970’s, the Southern California Research Institute was asked by the NHTSA to evaluate the field sobriety tests in order to determine which were the most accurate. Ten officers watched subjects perform various field sobriety tests, then were asked which subjects had a BAC of .10 percent or higher. The officer’s error rate for determining whether a subject was impaired in these tests was 47 percent.

That means they would have been almost better off flipping a coin than watching the subjects.

Nearly half of the time, the police officers were wrong in their determination of whether a subject was impaired. Nonetheless, based on those tests, the walk and turn, the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus were chosen as the most accurate field sobriety tests. Despite being the most accurate field sobriety tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus had only a 77 percent accuracy rate, the walk and turn had a 68 percent accuracy rate, and the one-leg stand had a 65 percent accuracy rate. Further, the Government has altered field sobriety tests guidelines and procedures so often over the past four decades that some research says that 95 percent of all DUI arrests are made by police officers with outdated training in field sobriety tests.

Getting the Legal Help You Need Following Your DUI Charges

The police officer may instruct the suspect incorrectly during a field sobriety test, the person performing the field sobriety test may have one or more issues or health conditions which make the field sobriety test results invalid, or the surface conditions, lighting conditions, or weather conditions could have negatively impacted the detained person’s ability to execute the field sobriety tests.

Finally, the officer’s scoring method could be so subjective as to assure failure on the part of the test subject. Because field sobriety tests are not considered entirely accurate, if you were arrested for DUI based on the field sobriety tests scores, your attorney can challenge those scores on your behalf. If you have been charged with DUI in Pinole, California, based on a field sobriety test—or for any other reason—it is important to speak to a Pinole DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Call the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed in Oakland today—dial (510) 907-6600 or submit a short online form to us at the bottom of this page. We can provide a free initial consultation and protect your rights.

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