A Brief Description Of The One Leg Stand Test In Alabama
Interviewer: The one leg stand. What’s that consist of, what’s the purpose of that? What are the police officers asking and what are they looking for?
Zach Peagler: That one again has to be properly explained and demonstrated and you have to raise your foot off the ground and count in a slow cadence from 1 – 30. This is what it is supposed to be. Most officers that we see tell the individual to count until they tell them to stop which is not the proper way to administer that test and then they are looking for unsteady balance, putting your foot back on the ground, using your arms, your hands for balance, not counting properly. Those are the things that they’re looking for as indicators of impairment.
The Extraneous Tests Utilized by the Police to Determine Probable Cause in a DUI
Interviewer: Are there any other tests that a police officer may add on to the list so to speak in Alabama?
Zach Peagler: Yes we get all range of things from saying your ABCs backwards, saying only various portions of the ABCs. There are a few others that they’ll throw in from time to time but the thing to remember, if your attorney understands the DUI law, there’s a good argument to be made that these are not standardized field sobriety tests so there’s no verifiable scientific data that says if you say your ABCs wrong, that means that you’re drunk. So those things need to be dealt with before the case ever come before the judge, the jury, in a trial and try to have the judge say the police can’t even talk about those things during the trial.
The Factors that Can Hinder the Performance of an Individual in a Field Sobriety Test
Interviewer: Are there any other factors that may hinder someone’s performance, if it’s done at night, would something like lights, police lights or head lights make it difficult for someone?
Zach Peagler: Absolutely. Poor lighting can make it very difficult to perform the walk and turn test. Poor grating at the road can make it difficult to perform the one leg stand or the walk and turn test. The sheer fact that there’s blue lights flashing, and head lamps on you, that type of thing can make you nervous and difficult to perform the test.
Police Officers May Administer the Field Sobriety Tests on an Obviously Intoxicated Individual
Interviewer: I’ve seen shows where the person is obviously drunk or intoxicated, would the police officer still administer these tests? Why is that?
Zach Peagler: Yes, they can do that and as long as they believe that the person’s not a safety risk to themselves, or others, they can still administer the test. It is probably the proper protocol to do, just so you can gather the necessary evidence to try and convict the person in court. Sometimes we’ll get police to say for safety reasons I did not administer these field sobriety tests and that counts as a feather in the cap of thedefense lawyer because that’s a very subjective analysis especially if there is not a dash cam or something like that. So if the police officer says they were so intoxicated that I didn’t even bother, well we can have a field day cross examining that and unless they are video-taped that shows the person fall out of the car or stumble into the car or something.
Police Officers Look for a Solid Arrest and Try to Have As Much Prosecutorial Evidence as Possible
Interviewer: At that point the person could be obviously intoxicated but the police officer is going to do the tests just to further gather evidence, it’s not really because they are trying to say, ‘Hey, here’s a test. If you pass it we’ll let you go,’ it’s more like we just want to find more evidence against you, very incriminating.
Zach Peagler: A good police officer that wants to have a solid arrest is going to try unless there are extenuating circumstances to gather as much evidence as they can because that makes their job down the road easier. If they’ve got a dash cam and they’ve gone through the field sobriety tests and the person has obviously failed those tests, there is a lot less likelihood they will have to come to court and testify about that matter or answer questions about what they did or didn’t do. So, I would say the good police officers in most circumstances administer the test if at all possible.
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