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Grand Rapids Field Sobriety Testing
If you have recently been arrested for drinking and driving in Grand Rapids, chances are you were asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. Police officers use these tests to determine if you are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. If you failed the Michigan field sobriety tests and were charged with driving under the influence (DUI), speak with an experienced Grand Rapids DUI defense lawyer right away.Types of Field Sobriety Tests
Michigan law does not require any type of field sobriety testing, and there is no one size fits all. Many officers use "tests" that they learned from other officers, or perhaps saw demonstrated or read about during the training. The trend though is for all police officers to receive training in the National Highway Traffic Safety's Standardized Field Sobriety Testing.
Based on this training, most officers will administer each of the three standardized field sobriety tests. These include the walk-and-turn test, one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. The officer may also ask you to recite the alphabet or solve simple math problem, but these are not standardized tests. Even the standardized field sobriety tests don't have to be administered in strict compliance with the standardized format. Nevertheless, it is up to your lawyer, and to a degree, up to the judge presiding over your case, and ultimately, it's up to the jury, to hold the police accountable for not following their standardized training.
Michigan field sobriety tests are extremely hard to pass because they are subjective. In most cases, when an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, he or she already believes that you are guilty. Even if you mess up on one part (i.e., you are unable to keep your balance), the officer can testify that you failed the test. What many people do not realize about field sobriety tests is that, unlike a breath test, they are completely voluntary. When asked to perform a field sobriety test, politely say no.Challenging Field Sobriety Tests
Challenging these tests first requires a through knowledge of standardized training. To obtain this knowledge the best lawyers take the same three-day course that the police take, and themselves get trained and "certified" in standardized field sobriety testing. A very select few Michigan DUI lawyers have achieved certification as instructors of the standardized field sobriety tests. Lawyers with this level of knowledge, who know the subject better than the officers themselves, are the lawyers who can beat a DUI case at trial.
With the right DUI defense lawyer on your side, Michigan field sobriety tests can be challenged. If the officer administers the test but does not follow the proper guidelines, your lawyer may argue that the drunk-driving arrest was invalid before it ever gets to trial. Also, this information can be used to leverage an excellent plea bargain. A well-trained lawyer can easily see police errors from a review of the video recording taken at the roadside during the investigation of your case.
During your DUI case, the arresting officer must prove that he or she was well trained and competent enough to administer your field sobriety tests—if he or she cannot prove this, your attorney can attempt to have the results made inadmissible in court. If these test results are thrown out, it may mean that there was not enough probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Even if the results do not get thrown out, during the trial your attorney can question the officer's lack of experience in administering and grading the test results and use this information to win at trial.