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Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: “Your Drunk Tests Are Hard”

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Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: “Your Drunk Tests Are Hard”

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

standardized field sobriety testsOne of the areas where a DUI attorney’s experience is most obvious is in the cross-examination of the arresting officer on the issue of the standardized field sobriety tests.  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines which tests, if any, is correlated with impairment by alcohol. Due to extensive testing, NHTSA determined that three tests were specific for alcohol intoxication: the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus), the walk & turn test and the one leg stand test. This three-test battery are now referred to as the “standardized field sobriety tests.”

Why Is This Important?

Because the officer is using the non-standardized field sobriety tests to establish probable cause for an OVI arrest, he or she is on a faulty scientific and legal footing. Therefore, your DUI lawyer will challenge these tests as not probative of intoxication and that they are irrelevant for purposes of determining impairment. Hence, Rocky River v. Horvath, 2002 WL 538755 (Ohio Ct. App. 8th Dist. Cuyahoga 2002) has decided that these non-standardized tests are improper because they have no standardized application and they have not been approved by NHTSA. [Note: this opinion was written by now-Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell].

In addition, the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that non-standardized tests can come in under the totality of the circumstances used to reach a probable cause determination. State v. Rajehel, 2003-Ohio-3975. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the tests may be used as lay evidence of intoxication. Brooklyn Hts. v. Yee, 2009-Ohio-4552.

“All I do is DUI defense”

Since 1995, I made a practice of defending the accused drunk driver since 1995. Twice a year, I volunteer at the police academy as an instructor. I teach potential police officers how DUI attorneys challenge the standardized field sobriety tests. Especially relevant, I lecture on topics related to the standardized field sobriety tests. Credentials are important. Therefore, I have been certified in the field tests. I am as qualified as any law enforcement officer to administer and evaluate the tests. In addition, I have trained as a DRE (drug recognition expert). It is my goal to provide you with a thorough and complete defense. Call me at (937) 318-1384 to schedule a free consultation. Pulled over? Call my 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671.

Charles Rowland


Charles M. Rowland II has been representing the accused drunk driver for over 20 years. Contact him at (937) 318-1384 if you find yourself facing a DUI (now called OVI) charge.

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