Posts Tagged ‘horizontal gaze nystagmus’

There’s A New Standardized Field Sobriety Tests “Guide”

November 18th, 2013

standardized field sobriety testsStandardized Field Sobriety Tests are commonly known as the roadside activities that police officers ask drivers to perform if the officer suspects that the driver is impaired by alcohol or another impairing substance. We call them “stupid human tricks.”  Contrary to popular understanding and belief, many of these tests have little basis in science, and the ones that do are frequently performed incorrectly.

NHTSA has developed a new “GUIDE” in assessing Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.  The new (March, 2013) version focuses more on having law enforcement recognize and administer tests to determine impaired driving by substances other than alcohol.  No new scientific studies regarding the scientific validity of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are given and no improvements to the process are undertaken. This is the latest in many revisions to the NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manuals (1987, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 (R2/06 and R8/06 R2/06/09).

Instead of improving the tests, the 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.

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 standardized field sobriety tests and other city-specific info at the following links:

FairbornDaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburgSpringboro,Huber HeightsOakwoodBeavercreekCenterville

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: They Don’t Work

November 4th, 2013

standardized field sobriety testsThe National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration’s standardized field sobriety tests were developed based on a 1977 study. The subjects of this study had blood alcohol content levels ranging from zero to .15 percent. Though there was such a large different between the test subjects, there was a 47 percent error rate in determining a person’s impairment after administering the standardized field sobriety tests. 47%! This means that almost half of the people were misidentified by police officers as being drunk when in fact they were not. What is worse, one of the researchers agreed that the tests are problematic because there is no correlation between a person’s ability to perform a”stupid human trick” like the standardized field sobriety tests battery: One Leg Stand, Walk & Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test and a person’s ability to operate a vehicle.  Despite the scientific flaws with the standardized field sobriety tests, they are used throughout Ohio to establish probable cause for an arrest.

You are also subjected to a great variance in the officer’s understanding of the tests and his or her ability to competently administer the standardized field sobriety tests.  Some officers have not been trained in the administration of the standardized field sobriety tests, some have not been updated since they took the course at the police academy and others simply do not know how to administer standardized field sobriety tests in a manner that would make them indicative of impairment.  In the hands of a well-trained professional, these tests can act as a rudimentary screen for impairment.  In other hands they can give a false veneer of science to a bad arrest.

You and your DUI defense attorney also have to take into account the typical DUI investigation.  Standardized field sobriety tests are divided attention tests, meaning that if there is a problem that is affecting the driver’s ability to concentrate, it will also affect how he or she performs on the test. What could affect a person’s concentration more than the flashing lights of a police car in the middle of the night while attempting to walk in a straight line.  This does not even take into account that some people cannot and should not be screened by standardized field sobriety tests because they would find these tests difficult to pass even under ideal conditions.  Police officers are not scientists.  As such we see scientific gains stymied by human error or incompetence when it comes to the administration of standardized field sobriety tests.  It is vital that your DUI defense attorney understand and implement the latest science in your defense.

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 standardized field sobriety tests and other city-specific info at the following links:

FairbornDaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburgSpringboro,Huber HeightsOakwoodBeavercreekCenterville

Unintended Consequences of an Ohio DUI Charge

May 6th, 2013

A drunk driving charge can affect you in ways that you may not expect. Listed below are some of the more vexing issues associated with an Ohio DUI (OVI) charge.

1. Child Custody – If you are involved in a custody dispute, or have a vindictive spouse who would like to start one, a DUI/OVI conviction can be used against you in domestic relations court.  Automatic suspensions may make it difficult to exercise visitation with your children.  You may also find a court who will refuse to let you transport the children due to a DUI/OVI conviction, thereby increasing the cost or difficulty in seeing your kids.  Visit www.OhioDivorceAttorney.com for issues involving child custody. MADD has advocated putting a provision in every divorce decree calling for immediate suspension of parental rights if the parent if found to be driving while intoxicated.

2. Adoption – Some investigating agencies will use a DUI/OVI conviction against a party seeking to adopt children.

3. Car Insurance - Some companies will drop you if you have a drunk driving conviction and others may deny claims.  Others raise rates dramatically and still other companies force you to buy “high risk” insurance.  You can expect higher costs and less coverage for your dollar.

4. Employment – Given the societal stigma of a DUI/OVI, many companies will terminate an employee who is charged or convicted of an OVI.  Particularly vulnerable employees include those who drive company cars, those who drive between states for their jobs, those who are covered by fleet insurance and those who have management jobs.  In this tough job market you want to check your employment handbook for any reporting obligations a DUI/OVI require.  You have to decide if the employer needs to know, or, if they will be placated by telling them that you are aggressively fighting your charge.

5. Professional Licenses – Are you a doctor, lawyer, nurse, daycare worker, cosmetologist, private security, barber or any other many other workers required by your state to hold a professional license?  Do you hold a security clearance?  Holders of a professional license may face a range of sanctions for a DUI/OVI conviction, including mandatory alcohol counseling, fines, probationary discipline, license review, denial of a license or revocation of an existing license.  Obviously, you should fight your DUI/OVI charge with vigor to avoid these devastating results.

6. Civil Lawsuits – If you are involved in a drunk driving accident you become a target for victims of personal or property damage.  Many times the societal approbation against drunk driving will motivate someone to seek revenge to assure that you are punished for your negligent and reckless behavior.

7. Pilot’s License – Those holding an FAA Airman’s Certificate are subject to reporting and disclosure requirements.  A DUI is a “motor vehicle action” pursuant to section 61.15 of the FAA Aviation Regulations.

8. Military Induction – The ramifications of a DUI/OVI may prevent or delay induction into the military.  Recruiters are loathe to interfere with an order of any court.

9. Educational (College) Problems – Many colleges, depending on the facts of the case and whether or not the DUI was on school property, will haul you before a disciplinary committee when you are convicted (in some cases charged) with a DUI/OVI offense.  These sanctions are further complicated if you are applying to a college or university.

10. Travel - Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act may prevent entry into Canada following an OVI conviction. [see previous articles on this topic]  You may also face travel restrictions if you engage in travel to sensitive places.

11. Immigration Issues – DUI/OVI is not a crime of violence but may still carry immigration issues.  Make sure your attorney can get advise from a competent immigration attorney.

12. Commercial Drivers – See the numerous articles I have written on the plight of professional drivers who face the loss of their careers even when driving a non-commercial vehicle on their own time.

13. Teachers and Education Majors - First the good news, usually an OVI arrest will usually not result in disciplinary action – BUT IT CAN!  In Ohio, a Teacher, Principal, or School Administrator, who is licensed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), may face Disciplinary Action for being arrested for DUI.  The circumstances surrounding the arrest may garner publicity if you are a well-known or long-tenured educator.  The internal politics of your school may cause a fellow teacher, a school board member or a member of the public to contact the Ohio Department of Education to trigger an investigation.  If an investigation is initiated, the Ohio Department of Education will not wait for an outcome, but will proceed to impose discipline independent of the outcome of your case.  Factors that may affect your DOE investigation may include whether the offense is a repeat offense, whether the offense involves illegal drugs and/or whether the case results in a conviction.   While there are no hard and fast rules, the more mitigation you are prepared to present to the DOE, the better the chance to avoid discipline and keep your job.

14. Enhancement – A DUI/OVI in Ohio is never expungeable and will follow you for 6 years for enhancement purposes.  This means that if you are convicted of a second OVI within 6 years you will face harsh enhanced penalties.  A DUI/OVI will also require you to submit to a chemical test (no-refusals) for 20 years following a conviction.

Given all the above, many times the most difficult aspect of a DUI/OVI is telling those people you love you have been charged.  The National Highway Transportation Administration, MADD, The Century Council, schools and colleges all spend millions of dollars on educational programs and television commercials stigmatizing the act of drunk driving.  DUI clients are perceived as guilty without a presumption of innocence afforded to most defendants.  Furthermore, it causes stress and financial concerns in families that can cause minor fissures to become major cracks.  If you find yourself charged with a DUI/OVI please contact a competent criminal defense attorney who can protect you from this many-tentacled beast.  Charles M. Rowland II has dedicated his practice to representing the accused drunk driver.  Contact him immediately at 937-879-9542 or 1-888-ROWLAND

Nonstandardized Field Sobriety Tests

April 12th, 2013

Ohio has adopted the three-test field sobriety protocol as set forth in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) manual for training law enforcement officers.  The three tests adopted by NHTSA all survived scientific scrutiny as being indicative of impairment.  The tests are: (1) horizontal gaze nystagmus, a test of the subject’s eyes; (2)  walk & turn; (3) one-leg-stand.  The officer is trained to administer the tests in a standardized fashion and record “clues” of impairment as evidenced by the subject’s performance on the tests.

Often, you will encounter a circumstance where the officer employs an non-standardized field sobriety test.  These tests may include nonscientific “techniques”, some of which are described in the NHTSA manual, and can include a finger dexterity test, an alphabet test, a counting test or some other form of confusing coordination test.  Some jurisdictions still employ a thoroughly discredited test which requires the subject to tilt their head back and touch the tip of his finger to the tip of his nose.

The first step in challenging the officers decision to employ non-standardized tests is to determine why the officer is employing the tests.  Ohio has set forth eleven (11) factors that courts consider in determining whether or not the officer has established reasonable and articulable suspicion of drunk driving sufficient to request that the suspect step from the car.  See State v. Evans, citation omitted.  It is appropriate pursuant to the NHTSA manual to employ the above-described “techniques” at this phase of the officer’s investigation.  Your DUI attorney will know how to use cross examination to establish that there were omissions in the officers investigation, or that the officer lacked the legal standard necessary to ask you to step from the car.

If, however, the officer is using the tests to establish probable cause for an OVI arrest, he or she is on a faulty scientific footing.  Your DUI lawyer will challenge these tests as not probative of intoxication and that they are irrelevant for purposes of determining impairment.  At least one case, Rocky River v. Horvath, 2002 WL 538755 (Ohio Ct. App. 8th Dist. Cuyahoga 2002) has decided that these non-standardized tests are improper because they have no standardized application and they have not been approved by NHTSA. [Note: this opinion was written by now-Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell].  The Second District Court of Appeals has ruled that non-standardized tests can come in under the totality of the circumstances used to reach a probable cause determination. State v. Rajehel, 2003-Ohio-3975.  The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the tests may be used as lay evidence of intoxication. Brooklyn Hts. v. Yee, 2009-Ohio-4552.

If you find yourself needing the assistance of a qualified Ohio DUI lawyer, contact Charles M. Rowland II at (937) 318-1DUI or 1-888-ROWLAND.  Charles Rowland has taken the same NHTSA approved training as law enforcement, is Ohio’s only Forensic Sobriety Assessment certified attorney and has honed his skills as both a defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney.  Please visit www.DaytonDUI.com to find out more.

Can a Person Refuse to Take the Field Sobriety Test?

April 2nd, 2013

QUESTION: Can a person refuse to take the field sobriety test?

AUDIO ANSWER by DUI Attorney Charles Rowland: