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Suppressing evidence collected during a field sobriety test

For most motorists in Wisconsin, being stopped by a police officer is both a serious and unnerving event. While traffic violations are considered minor, most drivers hate receiving a citation. The same goes for a drunk driving charge. Being accused of drunk driving is more than just a traffic offense. This criminal charge could carry with it serious penalties, as well as personal and professional consequences. Motorists facing a DUI charge will usually need to consider the criminal defense options available to them.

One defense option is to suppress the evidence used against them. When a police officer believes that a driver is under the influence, that officer will seek to gather further evidence to have probable cause to arrest the driver for drunk driving. This is often accomplished through field sobriety tests.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test, which is endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, consists of three tests. The first is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. This refers to the involuntary jerking of the eye when it looks to the side. However, this jerking is exaggerated when an individual is impaired by alcohol. The second test is the walk and turn. This tests a driver's ability to complete tasks with divided attention. The final test is the one-leg stand, which tests the suspect's sway, using arms to balance, hopping and placing a foot down while completing this test.

When a suspect fails the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, that individual is usually given a breathalyzer test. This helps establish the driver's blood alcohol concentration prior to an arrest being made. Much like other procedures used to collect information and evidence, officers are required to follow certain steps and protocol. If these are not followed, this could be used to dismiss the evidence used against a suspect.

When asserting a defense against a DUI, it is important that drivers gain a full picture of the situation and the consequences. Asserting a strong defense could help a defendant reduce the charges or even dismiss them altogether.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Field Sobriety Tests," accessed Jan. 15, 2017

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