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Utah DUI Attorney in Salt Lake City

Do DUI field sobriety tests prove impairment?

There is a mistaken belief, found even among some police officers and prosecutors, that failing the field sobriety tests in a Utah DUI investigation is proof conclusive that the person was impaired. If you have been arrested, cited, or charged for a DUI or DUI Metabolite charge, the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney can be vital. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

What do DUI field sobriety tests show?

Utah DUI DefenseWhile DUI field sobriety tests do not, by themselves, prove impairment, they do serve a legitimate legal purpose in a DUI case investigation. NHTSA's Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (commonly referred to as "FSTs"), when administered properly, are designed to help in determining whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Failure on the FSTs can support the probable cause necessary to justify taking a breath, blood, or urine sample to test for alcohol.

NHTSA claims that officers who are trained to correctly administer the FSTs can be approximately 90% accurate in determining whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Utah courts have held that failure on the FSTs is a legitimate part of the legal analysis in determining whether there is probable cause to require a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine) for the detection of alcohol.

What else can cause a person to fail the standardized field sobriety tests?

The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests include the One-Leg Stand (OLS), Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). Failure on these tests can be caused by alcohol. But a person's performance on each of these FSTs can also be affected by other medical or physical conditions.

Balance is a key factor affecting both the OLS and WAT tests. Balance, of course, can be affected by foot or leg injuries, back injuries, inner-ear infections, and a variety of other medical conditions. Performance on the OLS and WAT tests can also be affected by other physical conditions or the environment in which the FSTs are administered. Rough or slippery pavement, uneven road surfaces, and even poor-fitting shoes can all affect a person's performance on these FSTs.

Eye nystagmus may be affected by some prescription medications that may not cause any driving impairment. Other physical or neurological conditions may cause nystagmus. Even the flashing lights of a police car have the potential to affect a person's performance on the HGN test.

Do I have to submit to a police officer's request to do the field sobriety tests?

A police officer cannot require you to participate in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.he FSTs. Utah's implied consent law applies to chemical tests (breath, blood, or urine) for the detection of alcohol. But the implied consent laws do not apply to FSTs.

If you choose to submit to the FSTs, a police officer may use your performance on the FSTs as a basis for requesting a chemical test. If you refuse to submit to the chemical test, you may face a substantial driver license suspension. If the officer has properly performed the FSTs, a court may also issue a warrant allowing the officer to forcibly obtain a blood or urine sample for purposes of testing for alcohol (or drugs).

Declining a police officer's request to perform the FSTs may help avoid a DUI charge. But refusing to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test for alcohol may just increase the penalties you face.

Are the "non-standard" field sobriety tests valid?

In addition to NHTSA's "Standardized" Field Sobriety Tests, there are a number of other non-standard tests that a police officer may perform in an effort to determine whether a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These test can include performing tasks such as touching the nose, reciting the alphabet backwards, or counting backwards.

While these non-standard tests can be entertaining, they have not been scientifically validating for the purpose of determining alcohol impairment. While the ability to recite the alphabet in reverse order may be an important skill for alphabetizing names or other records, it has not been shown to be a substantial factor in determining driving impairment from alcohol.

Finding a DUI/Criminal Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerIf you have been cited, arrested, or charged with DUI, Driving with Measurable Metabolite, or other criminal charges, having the assistance of an experienced defense attorney can be vital to achieving a successful outcome. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has a track record that includes dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah.

Contact us today to arrange for confidential consultation with Utah criminal lawyer Stephen Howard.

RELATED QUESTIONS:
What should I do if I am arrested for DUI in Utah?
What are the penalties for DUI in Utah?
How do I request a driver license hearing (DLD hearing) in a Utah DUI case?


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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