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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Drunk or Sober? Sobriety test and junk science

Field sobriety tests are made from junk science and strange old beliefs.

As an attorney I am required to take Continuing legal education courses to maintain my bar licenses.  Many of them are boring but I cam across an extremely interesting one.  It was called, FSTs: The Science & cross demo.  This can be scene at westlaw or the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) website   The speakers where Ron Lloyd and Steve Oberman (bios).  
They discussed how to cross examine a police officer in relation to how the field sobriety tests. The main points I came out with were the following:

Field Sobriety Tests are unreliable due to the following:
         1. Poor training
         2. Constantly changing how the sobriety test is to be conducted
         3. Not retraining officers on proper procedures
         4. not performing scientific tests on sober people related to these tests
         5. not accounting for all factors such as weight, gender, age, etc.

Most officers do not appear to be able to conduct the test to the current manual available.  This is due to the fact that they are not retrained properly.  The tests are constantly changed as new studies are released, but many of these studies appear to be questionable and based on qualitative studies.  Finally, the presenters mentioned most officers are about 50 lbs, one must ask themselves, can that officer stand on one leg for 30 seconds???

I believe most police officers are hard working and doing there best, but there are some serious flaws in a field sobriety test. So in short, don't blow, don't subject yourself to a test, and ask for your lawyer immediately.

For further reading check out this article. Article on field tests put out by Texas attorney Tylden Shaeffer at

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Richard Christopher Simons
Licensed in Missouri & Oklahoma   Twitter      Facebook      Google+   Linkedin

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