Don’t Speak English? The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Are Unfair!
If you have a client who does not speak english (or “cop english”), or if you have a client that does not hear well, they should not be considered impaired if they cannot follow the officer’s instructions during the standardized field sobriety tests.
The National Sobriety Testing Resource Center has put out a study, Impediments to Testing: The Impact of Hearing Impairment and Language Barriers on the Field Sobriety Testing Function which shows exactly how unfair the standardized field sobriety tests are under these conditions. This study states that all officers conducting field sobriety tests at roadside should know the availability of deaf interpreters. This study also indicates that a large format graphic translation unit should be created for use in roadside testing and be available for officers conducting Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. This study also states that printed test instructions should be made available in English and other common foreign languages.
Despite the efforts by courts to have services for non-English speakers and for hearing impaired individuals, the arresting officers in Ohio have very limited resources and little access to those services at the roadside. They may be trying to be fair, but the conditions do not permit them to be so. This is not the fault of the client and the client should not be penalized for this circumstance.