Today I watched a video of a client who looked stone-cold sober to me. However, he was scored a "failure" on his field sobriety tests by the arresting police officer. Interestingly, the scoring of the field sobriety tests in his Atlanta DUI Case were probably done according to NHSTA Standards. Objectively, the client "failed" the tests based on the scoring allowed in the tests.
However, in my opinion the tests totally failed to show actual impairment. The client spoke clearly and without a slur. He walked and talked as a sober person. His driving was adequate, but not perfect. Any person watching this video of his Atlanta DUI arrest would agree that he was not under the influence. Yet, he was charged with DUI in Atlanta GA and had to hire an Atlanta DUI Lawyer to fight his case.
Yet, he "failed" the tests because the test are fundamentally flawed. Firstly, it is assumed the people have the requisite coordination to do these tests. However, many people do not. Secondly, the tests were validated in studies where the subjects had no apprehension of going to jail or being arrested. People were given alcohol and then told to perform the evaluations. However, all of the subjects were people who were not suspected of a crime. No subject faced the prospect of going to jail, losing a job, or facing their family members.
My clients, however, are on the side of the road facing potential arrest. They are afraid. They are petrified. They have their entire lives rushing before their very eyes. They are not given a chance to practice the tests. They are on surfaces that are not flat. It is often late at night. Many are tired. Yet, with all these factors, they are compared with test subjects that helped to validate the field sobriety tests who were not under any stress at all.
I am actually shocked at how well many of my clients do on these evaluations. In fact, many look better than the arresting police officers that demonstrate the tests. In fact, many police officers contribute to a client's poor performance by demonstrating the tests so poorly themselves.
This is not to say that all person who take these field sobriety tests in Georgia are innocent. Of course many are guilty. Yet in cases where a person is accused of refusing a breath test in Atlanta, people are convicted on field sobriety testing alone. This is a travesty of justice for so many people. It is conviction by opinion alone, the opinion of the arresting police officer who has a vested interest in getting a conviction in his case.