1. Let’s Change The Name
The first change to the Field Sobriety Test manual is the name. Prior to this year the training class for law enforcement officers studying the Field Sobriety Test regimen was called A.D.A.P. (Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program) and used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “manual.” The new class will simply be called Field Sobriety Test or SFST class and will use a “guide.”
Remaining from the previous training materials is the familiar “Session” approach allowing instructors to focus the students on different aspects of DUI enforcement. The structure of the “guide” incorporates training slides and the overall look of the information from a book-type format to a Power-Point layout. The Field Sobriety Test Guide also incorporates new information on “Drugged Driving.” Students taking the Field Sobriety Test class will now be required to complete a four hour block on Drugged Driving designated for it to be added to the Police Officer Basic Training Curriculum.
If there is one overriding takeaway that you can take away from the changes to the Field Sobriety Test Guide, it is that there is going to be a major focus on driver’s suspected of being impaired by illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol and/or a combination of all of these substances. Let’s begin by taking a look at the changes to Session One.
2. Changes To Session One
The introductory material contained in Session One updates the previous 2008 data and statistical information with 2010 and 2011 information using the NHTSA Fact Sheets and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Data.
3. Changes To Session Two
The definitions and data related to “alcohol-related crash” was revised to read: “Alcohol-impaired crash so as to be consistent with NHTSA. It refers to a driver with a .08 percent BAC or higher. The Guide also reflects that all states now have a .08 percent BAC limit. It changes the word “many” to “all” when referring to states with a .08 DWI limit. Additional alcohol facts are added to reflect the most current statistics and the involvement of high BAC drivers. The Guide revises the information on traffic fatalities, changing the Guide to say that a traffic fatality occurs every 51 minutes. The Source for this information is listed as the NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, 2010 Data, Alcohol Impaired Driving, DOT HS 811 606, April 2012. They also add, In 2010, 28 percent of all fatalities on motorcycles, the operator had a BAC of .08 percent or higher; and, In 2010, 25-34 year olds constituted 34 percent of all alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the U.S. citing NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, 2010 Data, Alcohol Impaired Driving, DOT HS 811 606, April 2012.
4. Changes To Session Three
Session Three of the Field Sobriety Test Guide was changed to include major court decisions regarding the admissibility of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. More details were added regarding the adoption of illegal per se laws by the various states. Again, this is a focus on preparing officers to make arrests for alcohol and drugs.
5. Changes To Session Four
No major changes. Additional slides were added concerning note-taking and report writing.
6. Changes To Session Five
Throughout the Field Sobriety Test training, the acronym “DUI” was changed to “DWI” to be consistent throughout the training guide. Changes were also made to include more information about a vide called “Sliding Sports Car.” This information is included to allow instructors to solicit information from students regarding the driving and stopping sequence.
7. Changes To Session Six
Again, a name change. The term “roadblock” was removed and replaced with the word “checkpoint.” We also see a description and additional information about the training video “Busy Businessman.”
There were no major revisions to Sessions IX, X, XI, XII, or XIV except the removal of any mention of the excised training video “Extras.” Otherwise, no significant changes were made. As you may recall from my previous articles, the NHTSA author’s have decided to take out one of the basic factual components of the entire Standardized Field Sobriety Test scheme – the preface. Yep, that’s right; the preface has been targeted for change. Recall the following preface to the most recent NHTSA manual.
The procedures outlined in this manual describe how the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are to be administered under ideal conditions. We recognize that the SFSTs will not always be administered under ideal conditions in the field, because such conditions will not always exist. Even when administered under less than ideal conditions, they will generally serve as valid and useful indicators of impairment. Slight variations from the ideal, i.e., the inability to find a perfectly smooth surface at roadside, may have some affect on the evidentiary weight given to the results. However, this does not necessarily make the SFSTs invalid.
Why target the preface? It is this author’s opinion that the preface was being used by DUI defense attorneys to place the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in proper context before the jury in DUI prosecutions. Just like other areas, the government would rather hide behind words rather than give attorneys defending citizens’ freedom something that has proven to aid jurors in laying bear the problems with these tests. Now more than ever, it is important to have an attorney who understands what they are doing and why they are doing it. Sadly, many attorneys will never know of the change and more innocent people will be convicted based on pseudo-scientific stupid human tricks.
Please check back as my review of the changes to the NHTSA Guide will continue.
Ohio DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for drunk driving defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at (937) 318-1384 or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). If you need assistance after hours, call the 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671. You can have DaytonDUI at your fingertips by downloading the DaytonDUI Android App or have DaytonDUI sent directly to your mobile device by texting DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Facebook, @DaytonDUI on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pheed and Pintrest or get RSS of the Ohio DUI blog. You can email CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. “All I do is DUI defense.”
Find information on the standardized field sobriety test Guide and other city-specific info at the following links: