Tag: sobriety tests

Changes To The 2013 NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Test Manual

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standardized field sobriety testThere is a new NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Test training manual and it is significantly changed from prior versions.  Included is the new focus of law enforcement on impairing drugs.  The new information lays the groundwork for full implementation of the Drug Recognition Expert protocol now making its way into Ohio law. 

This article will focus on the changes in a format that follows the NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Test training manual text, session by session.  Full versions of the NHTSA DUI training manual are available at various sources on the internet.  This article incorporates the work of various authors and compliers to whom credit is due.  Unfortunately, I did not find proper attribution in the materials.  Thank you for your hard work in helping address the new manual. 

2013 NHTSA Changes

 -Curriculum is in a new PDF Format. The Instructor guide includes all of the information contained in the Participant Manual, including each of the PowerPoint slides.

Session I 

-Old 2008 data and statistical information was updated with 2010 and 2011 data using the NHTSA Fact Sheets and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Data.

Session II

-The word “many” was replaced with “all” when referring to states with .08 DWI limit.

-The data and the definition related on an “alcohol-related crash” were revised to read: “Alcohol-impaired crash” per NHTSA, refers to a driver with a .08 percent BAC or higher. In 2010, 28% of all fatally injured motorcycle operators had a BAC of .08 or higher. In 2010, the 25-34 year old group constituted 34% of all alcohol impaired driving fatalities in the U.S. (NHTSA Trffic Safety Facts, 2010 Data, DOT HS 811 606.)

-The information regarding traffic fatalities was revised to read that on the average, a traffic fatality occurs every 51 minutes. Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, 2010 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, DOT HS 811 606, April 2012.

-Additional Alcohol Facts were added to reflect the current statistics and the involvement of high BAC drivers (0.15+).

Session III 

-More details were added concerning Illegal Per Se laws. Also, major court decisions concerning the admissibility of HGN testimony were added to the PowerPoint slides.

Session IV

-Additional PowerPoint slides were added concerning note-taking and report writing.

Session V

-The acronym “DUI” in this session and in other areas of the curriculum was changed to “DWI” to be consistent throughout.

-The descriptive information for the “Sliding Sports Car” was revised to be consistent with the new version of this video. New information was added for the instructors to solicit from the students as it relates to the sliding sports car during the driving and stopping sequence.

Session VI

-The word “roadblock” was removed and replaced with the word “checkpoint” to be consistent with Sobriety Checkpoints.

-The video of the “Busy Businessman” was replaced and the information listed in this session was revised to be consistent with the new video.

-The video of “Busy Businessman Exiting” was also updated with a new video. The descriptive information was replaced with the new information related to the new video.

Session VII

-The words “driver” and “drivers” were replaced with the word “subject” to be consistent with other areas of the curricula.

-The photo of an officer doing the Modified Romberg Balance test in the PPT slide was replaced with an officer administering the One Leg Stand test. The Modified Romberg Balance test is a test used for DRE and not SFST.

-References directing the instructor to show “extras” referring to an additional video were removed as there are no extra videos.

-All references to “Romberg balance” were changed to “Modified Romberg Balance” to be consistent with ARIDE and DRE.

Session VIII

-Information regarding the field validation studies parameters concerning correct vs. incorrect decisions was added to help clarify the methodology of the studies.

-Additional information regarding the San Diego, CA SFST study entitled, “Validation of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Battery at BACs Below 0.10 Percent,” U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Final Report DOT-HS-808-839. More emphasis is being placed on the San Diego study because of the higher accuracy rates for HGN, Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand and because it is the most recent study.

-The reference to the combining of HGN and Walk and Turn test was removed.

-The word “pathology” in this session was changed to “pathological”.

-A bolded instructor note regarding resting nystagmus was added and reads as follows: “Remind the participants that if Resting Nystagmus is observed, they can continue with the remainder of the test to check for other possible indicators of impairment and any possible indicators of a medical condition.”

-The marble rolling across a polished pane of glass analogy for describing Lack of Smooth pursuit was removed and the only analogy is now the windshield wiper on a wet windshield versus a dry windshield. Object should be moved steadily at a speed that takes approximately two seconds to bring the eye from center to side. Two passes are to be made in front of the eyes.

-Additional wording was added to clarify how to properly score an improper turn during the Walk and Turn Test if the subject being tested turns on the right foot instead of the left foot. The clarification wording added is:

Note: There may be times when the suspect takes a wrong number of steps or begins the heel-to-toe walk with the wrong foot resulting in a turn on the right foot instead of the left. If this occurs, the suspect should be assessed a clue for an incorrect number of steps and not assessed a clue for an improper turn if the turn was made using a series of small steps as instructed and the suspect did not lose his/her balance while attempting the turn. This scoring is consistent with the original research and training conducted by the Southern California Research Institute and with the administration and scoring of the Walk and Turn test in the San Diego Field Study. 

-Additional information concerning the test limitations was added to both the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand tests. The additional information added is:

The original SCRI studies suggested that individuals over 65 years of age or people with back, leg or inner ear problems had difficulty performing this test. Less than 1.5% of the test subjects in the original study were over 65 years of age. Also, the SCRI studies suggest that individuals wearing heels more than 2 inches high should be given the opportunity to remove their shoes. Officers should consider all factors when conducting SFSTs.

-The words “pointed out” were removed from the PowerPoint slides when giving the instructions for the One Leg Stand test. The correct instructions are “with your raised foot parallel to the ground.” This revision was made to be consistent with other areas of the curriculum and with ARIDE and DRE. Advising to point the foot out was not part of the original OLS instructions.

-The instructor note regarding how officers are to handle those situations where the subject puts his/her foot down during the test was bolded in the Instructor Guide, which matches the description in the SFST guides:

An instructor note has been added reminding the instructor to instruct the students that if the suspect puts his/her foot down during the test, to advise the subject to pick their foot up and to continue counting from where the foot touched the ground/floor. This is not one of the instructions and should only be given if or when the foot touches the ground.

-All references to the third clue of the One Leg Stand test as being “Hops” were replaced with the word “Hopping”.

-A reference was added to address how to properly ensure that a suspect is not facing an officer’s strobe lights and reads as follows: “Note: Try to face the subject away from flashing or strobe lights that could cause visual or other distractions that could impede the test.”

Session IX

-References to a NHTSA video entitled “Extras” were removed from this session and from the PowerPoint slides.

Session X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV

-No major revisions.

Session XV

-References to showing the video “Extras” were removed.

Introduction to Drugged Driving Sessions

(This session will now be mandatory to teach and will have a four hour block designated for it added to the POBT curriculum)

The Following revisions were also made to the “introduction to Drugged Driving” session:

-The Glossary of Terms was updated to be consistent with ARIDE and where applicable with DRE. As an example, the Hippus definition was removed.

-The definition of drug was corrected to reflect ARIDE and Dre definition.

-The reference to “major drug categories” was revised to the “seven drug categories.”

-Dextromethorphan (DXM) was added to the Dissociative Anesthetics drug category.

-Synthetic Cannabinoids was added to the Cannabis category.

-Drug use data and statistics were updated.

-References to “normal” when addressing pupil size were changed to read, “will not be effected” to be consistent with ARIDE and DRE.

-Wording for the four effects of drugs (Null, Overlapping, Additive and Antagonistic) was revised to be more consistent with ARIDE and DRE.

–More changes are possible due to errors and omissions when the material is circulated.

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.”

For more info on Ohio Standardized Field Sobriety Test cases, check these city-specific sites at the following links:

Fairborn, Dayton, Springfield, Kettering, Vandalia, Xenia, Miamisburg, Huber Heights, Springboro, Oakwood, Beavercreek, Centerville


What Is A Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test?

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What is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test?

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus TestAlcohol is a central nervous system depressant affecting many of the higher as well as lower motor control systems of the body. This results in poor motor coordination, sluggish reflexes, and emotional instability. The part of the nervous system that fine-tunes and controls hand movements and body posture also controls eye movements. When intoxicated, a person’s nervous system will display a breakdown in the smooth and accurate control of eye movements. This breakdown in the smooth control of eye movement may result in the inability to hold the eyes steady, resulting in a number of observable changes of impaired oculomotor functioning. See, Jack E. Richman & John Jakobowski, The Competency and Accuracy of Police Academy Recruits in the Use of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test for Detecting Alcohol Impairment, 47 New Eng. J. Optometry 5, 6 (Winter 1994). [Ed. Note, The citations and quotes in this DaytonDUI blog article were taken from HERE, HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS: THE SCIENCE & THE LAW, A Resource Guide for Judges, Prosecutors and Law Enforcement (no authorship or suggested citation given).

“Nystagmus” is a term used to describe a “bouncing” eye motion that is displayed in two ways: (1) pendular nystagmus, where the eye oscillates equally in two directions, and (2) jerk nystagmus, where the eye moves slowly away from a fixation point and then is rapidly corrected through a “saccadic” or fast movement. Raymond D. Adams & Maurice Victor, Principles of Neurology, ch.13, “Disorders of Ocular Movement and Pupillary Function,” 117 (4th ed. 1991).  HGN is a type of jerk nystagmus with the saccadic movement toward the direction of the gaze. An eye normally moves smoothly like a marble rolling over a glass plane, whereas an eye with jerk nystagmus moves like a marble rolling across sandpaper. Most types of nystagmus, including HGN, are involuntary motions, meaning the person exhibiting the nystagmus cannot control it. C.J. Forkiotis, Optometric Exercise: The Scientific Basis for Alcohol Gaze Nystagmus, 59 Curriculum II, No. 7 at 9 (April 1987); Gregory W. Good & Arol R. Augsburger, Use of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus as a Part of Roadside Sobriety Testing, 63 Am. J. of Optometry & Physiological Optics 467, 469 (1986).  In fact, the subject exhibiting the nystagmus is unaware that it is happening because the bouncing of the eye does not affect the subject’s vision.

Alcohol causes two types: alcohol gaze nystagmus, which includes HGN, and positional alcohol nystagmus. Although alcohol causes both, alcohol gaze nystagmus and positional alcohol nystagmus are very different and easily distinguishable. Testing for positional alcohol nystagmus is not a part of the standardized field sobriety test battery. Defendants sometimes claim or attempt to confuse matters by arguing that the nystagmus the officer saw was actually positional alcohol nystagmus and not alcohol gaze nystagmus.

When an officer asks you to follow his pen, he is performing the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  Nystagmus is defined as the oscillation of the eyeball that occurs when there is a disturbance of the vestibular system or the oculomotor control of the eye.  The nystagmus the officer is looking for is an involuntary motion.  A person is usually unaware of the presence of a nystagmus and cannot control it. Forkiotis, C.J. Optometric Exercise: The Scientific Basis for Alcohol Gaze Nystagmus. 59 Curriculum II, No. 7 at 9 (April 1987); Good, Gregory W.  & Augsburger, Arol R. Use of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus as a Part of Roadside Sobriety Testing. 63 Am. J. of Optometry & Physiological Optics 467, 469 (1986); Stapleton, June M. et al. Effects of Alcohol and Other Psychotropic Drugs on Eye Movements: Relevance to Traffic Safety. 47 Q.J. Stud. on Alcohol 426, 430 (1986).  The officer is looking for a type of nystagmus wherein the eye moves slowly in one direction and then returns rapidly, sometimes referred to as a jerk or jerking nystagmus. Adams, Raymond D. & Victor, Maurice. Disorders of Ocular Movement and Pupillary Function.  Principles of Neurology.  Ch.13, 117 (4th ed. 1991).

A major weakness in relying on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test in the criminal justice arena is that there are multiple causes of nystagmus that have been observed.  Syndromes such as influenza, vertigo, epilepsy, measles, syphilis, arteriosclerosis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Korsakoff’s Syndrome, brain hemorrhage, streptococcus infections, and other psychogenic disorders all have been shown to produce nystagmus. Additionally, conditions such as hypertension, motion sickness, sunstroke, eyestrain, eye muscle fatigue, glaucoma, and changes in atmospheric pressure may result in gaze nystagmus. Pangman. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Voodoo Science. 2 DWI J. 1, 3-4 (1987).  Caffeine, nicotine and aspirin (alone or in combination with alcohol) can also lead to a nystagmus which mimics a nystagmus attributable to alcohol consumption. Id. at 3-4.  Scientific literature also points to a person’s circadian rhythms or biorhythms as having an affect on nystagmus readings as the body reacts differently to alcohol at different times in the day and even fatigue nystagmus can be found in an individual, and the list, according to critics, goes on.   Id. at 3-4; Booker, J.L.  End-position nystagmus as an indicator of ethanol intoxication. Sci Justice.  41(2):113-116. (April – June, 2001).

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is not present in marijuana impairment cases. In State v. Dixon, 2007-Ohio-5189 (Ohio Ct. App. 12th Dist. Clermont County 2007), the court addressed the issue of standardized field sobriety tests and marijuana impairment.  Relying upon the NHTSA standards, the court concluded that observations as to performance on the walk & turn test and the one-leg stand test were indicative of impairment, thus allowing those to be used against a suspected marijuana user.  The HGN test, however, is not indicative of marijuana impairment.  According to NHTSA nystagmus would not be present due to marijuana and, as such, it was plain error to admit evidence of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test against the defendant accused of marijuana impairment.

Ohio Revised Code 4511.19(D)(4)(b) sets forth the standards for admissibility of the results of field sobriety tests in OVI (drunk driving) prosecutions.  See State v. Bozcar, 113 Ohio St. 3d 148, 2007-Ohio-1251, 863 N.E.2d 115 (2007).  In order for the tests to be admissible, the State must demonstrate:

  1. By clear and convincing evidence.
  2. The Officer administered the tests insubstantial compliance.
  3. The testing standards for any reliable, credible, and generally accepted test.
  4. Including, but not limited to, the standards set by NHTSA.

The only guidance provided for determining the meaning of “substantial compliance” has come from State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St. 3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372 (2003), wherein the court indicated that errors that are clearly “de minimus” or “minor procedural deviations” are not substantial.  Thus, the State must set forth the testing standards, offer some testimony that the testing standards have been accepted and that the officer has substantially complied.  If the State fails to introduce testimonial or documentary evidence of the standards (most likely via the NHTSA training manual), then they have not met this burden. See Village of Gates Mills v. Mace, 2005-Ohio-2191 (Ohio Ct. App. 8th Dist., Cuyahoga County), wherein the State did not meet this burden despite the Court having its own copy of the manual.

In my practice we have seen a trend to manipulating the “substantial compliance” standard into a de facto prejudice standard.  The burden is being subtly shifted to the defendant to demonstrate that he or she was somehow prejudiced by the officer’s failure to comply with the NHTSA standards.  For example; if the officer does not articulate that he advised the suspect not to raise his or her arms, the Court says that he substantially complied by merely mentioning that he was trained in NHTSA protocols.  If, however, the defense points out that the officer did not give the proper instruction and still scored the test in a way negative to the defendant, the court may consider excluding some portion or all of the test.  Case law can be helpful on this point.

In State v. Clay, 34 Ohio St. 2d 250, 298 N.E.2d 137 (1973) the court ruled, “[h]owever, if by cross examination or otherwise, the defense places such compliance at issue, it then is incumbent upon the State, in order to maintain its burden of proof, to offer the methods and regulations into evidence and prove compliance.”  Some courts may try to take Judicial Notice of the manual (See Evid. R 201) when no manual was introduced.  In State v. Wells 2005-Ohio-5008 (Ohio Ct. App. 2d Dist., Montgomery County) held that the court cannot assume judicial notice when the record does not demonstrate a request for judicial notice or a reference to the manual by the trial court.  The 9th District Court of Appeals issued a great decision on the issue of substantial compliance.  Specifically, the issue involved giving the HGN test while the Defendant was seated in the car.  The Court found that this was not substantial compliance. (State v. Haneberg 5/29/2007, 2007-Ohio-2561, 9th District Court of Appeals).

The validity of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests results is dependent upon law enforcement practitioners following the established, standardized procedures for test administration and scoring. NHTSA’s SFST Student Manual states that the procedures demonstrated in the training program describe how SFSTs should be administered under ideal conditions, but that ideal conditions do not always exist in the field. Variations from ideal conditions, and deviations from the standardized procedures, might affect the evidentiary weight that should be given to test results.

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 “All I do is DUI defense.”

For more information on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test check these city-specific sites at the following links:

FairbornDaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandalia, Xenia, XeniaMiamisburg,  Huber HeightsOakwoodBeavercreekCenterville

 

 

 

The Limits of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

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flikr0424

Ohio Revised Code 4511.19(D)(4)(b) sets forth the standards for admissibility of the results of field sobriety tests in OVI (drunk driving) prosecutions.  See State v. Bozcar, 113 Ohio St. 3d 148, 2007-Ohio-1251, 863 N.E.2d 115 (2007).  In order for the tests to be admissible, the State must demonstrate:

  1. By clear and convincing evidence.
  2. The Officer administered the tests insubstantial compliance.
  3. The testing standards for any reliable, credible, and generally accepted test.
  4. Including, but not limited to, the standards set by NHTSA.

The only guidance provided for determining the meaning of “substantial compliance” has come from State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St. 3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372 (2003), wherein the court indicated that errors that are clearly “de minimus” or “minor procedural deviations” are not substantial.  Thus, the State must set forth the testing standards, offer some testimony that the testing standards have been accepted and that the officer has substantially complied.

But should that be enough?  Assuming the officer testifies that all non-intoxicated people should “pass” the tests and assuming that the officer was 100% compliant with his training in administering the tests, what does the science say?  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through its extensive research, has acknowledged that:

  • these tests lose their sensitivity if repeated;
  • sober people have difficulty with balance;
  • leg problems can affect these tests;
  • back problems can affect these tests;
  • middle ear problems can affect these tests;
  • weight can affect the tests;
  • age can affect the tests;
  • footwear can affect theses tests; and
  • weather conditions can affect the tests.

DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in DaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburg, Huber Heights,Beavercreek, and throughout Ohio.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense.  Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).  For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671.  For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook,www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.comor write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: Is Smell Enough?

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Français : Nez d'homme vu de face

Some Ohio courts have upheld determinations that the mere presence of a moderate to strong odor of alcohol, coupled with a proper initial stop, is sufficient to justify the administration of field sobriety tests. Seee.g.State v. Tackett, 2d Dist. No. 2011-CA-15, 2011-Ohio-6711 (“[t]his court has, however, repeatedly held that a strong odor of alcohol alone is sufficient to provide an officer with reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior”). See also State v. Schott, 2d Dist. No. 1415, 1997 Ohio App. LEXIS 2061 (May 16, 1997); State v. Haucke, 2d Dist. No. 99 CA 77, 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 1049 (Mar. 17, 2000);State v. Turner, 4th Dist. No. 812, 1993 Ohio App. LEXIS 40 (Jan. 11, 1993).  Please note that Dayton and most of the Miami Valley is in the Second Appellate District which has adopted this as the court’s standard.  

Other districts have required the presence of additional factors in order to uphold testing. See,e.g.State v. Appelhans, 6th Dist. No. WD-10-026, 2011- Ohio-487 (affirming denial of a suppression motion based upon glassy eyes, slurred speech, odor of alcohol, and refusal to blow into a portable breathalyzer device); State v. Koogler, 12th Dist. No. CA2010-04-006, 2010-Ohio-5531 (reversal of suppression based on odor of alcohol, glassy eyes, and passenger’s possession of an open container); City of Cincinnati v. Bryant, 1st Dist. No. CA-090546, 2010-Ohio-4474 (reversal of suppression based on erratic driving, moderate odor of alcohol, slurred speech, watery and glazed eyes, confusion and clumsiness while retrieving insurance card and exiting vehicle, and admission of alcohol consumption); State v. Burwell, 3d Dist. No. 12-09-06, 2010-Ohio-1087 (affirming denial of a suppression motion based on the early morning hour on a Saturday, erratic driving, odor of alcohol, glassy and bloodshot eyes, and admission of alcohol consumption); State v. Foster, 5th Dist. No. 2009AP020007, 2009-Ohio-4764 (reversal of suppression based on odor of alcohol, early morning hour, guarded and nervous demeanor, driving on a flat tire, and admission of alcohol consumption); State v. Hill, 7th Dist. No. 07-CO-12, 2008-Ohio- 3249 (affirming denial of a suppression motion based on erratic driving, moderate odor of alcohol, bloodshot and glassy eyes, and slurred speech); City of Strongsville v. Troutman, 8th Dist. No. 88218, 2007-Ohio-1310 (affirming denial of a suppression motion based on early morning hour, glassy eyes, slurred speech, moderate odor of alcohol, presence of beer in the back seat, and admission that defendant was coming from a bar).

DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in DaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburg, Huber Heights,Beavercreek, and throughout Ohio.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense.  Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).  For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671.  For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook,www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.comor write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.

Illegal Police Stops (by DaytonDUI)

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Protecting You From Illegal Police Stops!

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures, which  includes being unlawfully or illegally pulled over or stopped by law enforcement.  An officer cannot simply pull you over based on a hunch or intuition.  When a police officer observes a traffic violation, he or she is justified in initiating a limited stop for the purpose of issuing a citation.  State v. Brickman(2001), 11th Dist. No. 2000-P-oo58, 2001 Ohio App. LEXIS 2575.  The legal standard applied to traffic stops is reasonable and articulable suspicion, which means that the officer has reason to believe that:

  1. a crime has been committed;
  2. a crime is being committed, or
  3. a crime is about to be committed, AND
  4. the person(s) being stopped is the person who did one of the above

Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 21, 88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968).  It is your attorney’s job to demonstrate to a judge or jury that the officer lacked any credible evidence upon which to base reasonable and articulable suspicion.  In an OVI arrest scenario this often means fighting the reason(s) for the stop in the first place.  You are aided in this fight by having an attorney familiar with the officer’s training as set forth in the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Student Manual, which is specific on what the officer is to look for and what conclusions he or she can draw from your actions. Our friends at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have created a booklet for law enforcement called “Guide for Detecting Drunk Drivers at Night.”  This guide sets forth some of the most common and reliable indicators of drunk driving.  The list divides driving behaviors into four areas of clues that officers are trained to look for: Maintaining Lane Position, Speed and Braking, Vigilance, and Judgment.  The following is a list of symptoms in descending order of probability that the person observed is at or above a .10% BAC, thus statutorily driving while intoxicated.

  1. Turning with a wide radius
  2. Straddling center of lane marker
  3. “Appearing to be drunk”
  4. Almost striking object or vehicle
  5. Weaving
  6. Driving on other than designated highway
  7. Swerving
  8. Speed more than 10 mph below limit
  9. Stopping without cause in traffic lane
  10. Following too closely
  11. Drifting
  12. Tires on center or lane marker
  13. Braking erratically
  14. Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  15. Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
  16. Slow response to traffic signals
  17. Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
  18. Turning abruptly or illegally
  19. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  20. Headlights off
What’s more, they have assigned a probability of intoxication to each of the indicators.  For example, a person who turns with a wide radius will have a blood-alcohol concentration of .10 or higher 65 out of 100 times.  A person who  appears drunk will have a blood-alcohol concentration of .10 or higher 60 times out of 100.  There is also a procedure for calculating multiple factors, “When two or more cues are seen, add 5% to the highest value among the cues observed.”  If we see turning with a wide radius and a suspect who appears drunk, we take the higher number and add 10 (65 + 5 = 70).   Thus, 30 people out of 100 who appear drunk and turn with a wide radius are not at or above the .10 BAC threshold.  Another example: drifting at night had a 45% correlation to a .10 BAC or more and braking erratically  has a correlation of  35% to a BAC of .10 or more.  Thus if we have a driver who was breaking erratically (35%) and drifting (45%) we add 5% to the highest clue to conclude that the driver would have a correlation of 50% to a BAC of .10 or more (only if he or she were driving at night, of course).  Let’s throw in another clue.  Say our suspect was also turning with a wide radius which is correlated to a 60% chance the driver is above a .10 BAC.  When three or more clues are present we add 10% to the highest clue total (in this case the 60% turning with a wide radius) for a total correlation of 70%.  The individual clues have numbers written beside them in the manual which gives the correlation for the clue alone and in combination.  For instance “Problem Maintaining Proper Lane Position” has a correlation of 50% when indicated alone and a 75% correlation when combined with any other clue.  You can visit the NHTSA website at http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/dwidwihtml/index.htm for more on the studies and the driving clues or read How to Beat a DUI by James Nesci, pp. 13-15.  “On cross examination, the NHTSA research figures can be used to show that…individuals exhibiting these symptoms are not under the influence.” Taylor & Oberman, Drunk Driving Defense, 6th Ed., p. 210-211.

If you are stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of drunk driving, the officer will ask “Have you had anything to drink tonight?”  Some officers ask a variant of this question by making it an accusation, “I smell alcohol, how much have you had to drink?”  We are often asked how best to answer this question.  The short, best and most protective answer is to reply that you are uncomfortable answering any questions without an attorney present.  You have a Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent.  The police cannot punish you for exercising this right. USE IT!  So often a perfectly defensible case will be destroyed by a client’s ridiculous attempts to talk his or her way out of a DUI situation.  Police officers are very willing to listen to what you have to say.  A common tactic used by some experienced officers is the “it’s all over now, I’ve arrested you, let’s be honest” approach. They are seeking to solicit information to bolster the arrest and use against you in court.   It has also become a common practice for police agencies to conduct an “INTERVIEW” after advising a client of his or her Miranda Rights.  These so-called interviews is designed to elicit incriminating statements that destroy in advance any potentially mitigating conditions the defendant may wish to assert.  Questions like, “what have you had to drink?” “where were you driving to?” “when did you have your last drink?” “Do you suffer from any medical conditions?” etc.  The police officer simply goes down the list checking off the elements of the offense of drunk driving that the defendant willingly admits to.  Some clients even admit to being “buzzed” or feeling “inebriated” while they were driving even though credible evidence to the contrary is later discovered.  Admitting to drinking “one or two beers” is acceptable as that amount will not be sufficient to cause intoxication and it may explain why the officer can detect an odor of alcohol.

In almost every DUI I have encountered, the arresting officer has indicated that the alleged drunk driver had “bloodshot” or “glassy” eyes.  We challenge the officer by pointing out that he has never seen the defendant before and has no idea whether or not the defendant was engaging in activity that would logically cause bloodshot eyes (fatigue, being in a smoky environment, etc.).  This would usually end cross-examination on this issue and the officer would be able to establish an important factor in deciding whether or not to remove the driver for standardized field sobriety testing. (Phase II of the NHTSA DUI Investigation) It turns out that NHTSA has conducted a study which could really help out.  NHTSA has discounted these clues as prejudicial and irrelevant to determining intoxication. NHTSA released a report in 1997 that removes all of these clues as indicators of impairment. The materials provide an excellent resource for cross-examination of an arresting officer. Specifically, the report states:

“Finally, some cues were eliminated because they might be indicators more of social class than of alcohol impairment. For example, officers informed us that a flushed or red face might be an indication of a high BAC in some people. However, the cue also is characteristic of agricultural, oil field, and other outside work. Similarly, bloodshot eyes, while associated with alcohol consumption, also is a trait of many shift workers and people who must work more than one job, as well as those afflicted by allergies. A disheveled appearance similarly is open to subjective interpretation. We attempted to limit the recommendation to clear and objective post-stop behaviors.” Jack Stuster, U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA Final Report, The Detection of DWI at BACs Below 0.10, DOT HS-808-654 (Sept. 1997), p. E-10.

Your behavior with law enforcement can be vital to the officer’s decision making. Investigating officers are given a great deal of discretion in handling any situation. They may simply be seeking information to put in their report or they may be deciding whether or not to issue a citation. At the initial stage you must know your rights in order to protect yourself and, if necessary, aid your attorney in presenting your case to a jury. At this point it is vital to remember anything you say or do will be used against you. Arguing with the officer, complaining or bad-mouthing the officer does not help you and may give the officer an excuse to arrest you. Given the increased utilization of in-car cameras, the jury may also be allowed to observe your behavior and demeanor at the scene. Stay calm and in control of your emotions and treat the officer the way you would wish to be treated. Above all – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

What Level of Proof Does Law Enforcement Need to Pull You From Your Car For Standardized Field Tests?

One of the major decision points in the OVI arrest process is the officer’s decision to remove a suspect from his or her car and conductstandardized field sobriety testing. The officer is trained to arrive at this “decision point” by conducting an interview and using specific “pre-exit interview techniques” which include asking for two things simultaneously; asking interrupting or distracting questions; and asking unusual questions. (NHTSA Student Manual VI-4).  Additional techniques which an officer may employ include and Alphabet test (begin with E and end with P); a Countdown test (count out loud backward starting with 68 and ending with 53); and the Finger Count test (touch the tip of the thumb in turn to the tip of each finger while simultaneously counting).  Absent evidence of intoxication adduced at this point in the investigation, the officer lacks reasonable and articulable suspicion to allow him to request you to step from the car. (NHTSA Student Manual, VI-4, VI-5, VI-6).

In State v. Evans (11th Dist 1998), 127 Ohio App.3d 56, the Court cites factors to determine if an officer has reasonable articulable suspicion of driving under the influence: (1) the time and day of the stop (Friday or Saturday night as opposed to, e.g., Tuesday morning); (2) the location of the stop (whether near establishments selling alcohol); (3) any indicia of erratic driving before the stop that may indicate a lack of coordination (speeding, weaving, unusual braking, etc.); (4) whether there is a cognizable report that the driver may be intoxicated; (5) the condition of the suspect’s eyes (bloodshot, glassy, glazed, etc.); (6) impairments of the suspect’s ability to speak (slurred speech, overly deliberate speech, etc.); (7) the odor of alcohol coming from the interior of the car, or, more significantly, on the suspect’s person or breath; (8) the intensity of that odor, as described by the officer (“very strong,” “strong,” “moderate,” “slight,” etc.); (9) the suspect’s demeanor (belligerent, uncooperative, etc.); (10) any actions by the suspect after the stop that might indicate a lack of coordination (dropping keys, falling over, fumbling for a wallet, etc.); and (11) the suspect’s admission of alcohol consumption, the number of drinks had, and the amount of time in which they were consumed, if given.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

A metal detector can detect guns.  Does that mean that every person who sets off the metal detector has a gun?  The standardized field sobriety tests can detect lack of coordination due to intoxication.  Does that mean that all lack of coordination is indicative of intoxication? The three tests of the SFST are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN),
  • Walk-and-Turn (WAT),
  • and One-Leg Stand (OLS).

Ohio Revised Code 4511.19(D)(4)(b) sets forth the standards for admissibility of the results of field sobriety tests in OVI (drunk driving) prosecutions.  See State v. Bozcar, 113 Ohio St. 3d 148, 2007-Ohio-1251, 863 N.E.2d 115 (2007).  In order for the tests to be admissible, the State must demonstrate:

  1. By clear and convincing evidence.
  2. The Officer administered the tests insubstantial compliance.
  3. The testing standards for any reliable, credible, and generally accepted test.
  4. Including, but not limited to, the standards set by NHTSA.

The only guidance provided for determining the meaning of “substantial compliance” has come from State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St. 3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372 (2003), wherein the court indicated that errors that are clearly “de minimus” or “minor procedural deviations” are not substantial.  Thus, the State must set forth the testing standards, offer some testimony that the testing standards have been accepted and that the officer has substantially complied.  If the State fails to introduce testimonial or documentary evidence of the standards (most likely via the NHTSA training manual), then they have not met this burden. See Village of Gates Mills v. Mace, 2005-Ohio-2191 (Ohio Ct. App. 8th Dist., Cuyahoga County), wherein the State did not meet this burden despite the Court having its own copy of the manual.

In my practice we have seen a trend to manipulating the “substantial compliance” standard into a de facto prejudice standard.  The burden is being subtly shifted to the defendant to demonstrate that he or she was somehow prejudiced by the officer’s failure to comply with the NHTSA standards.  For example; if the officer does not articulate that he advised the suspect not to raise his or her arms, the Court says that he substantially complied by merely mentioning that he was trained in NHTSA protocols.  If, however, the defense points out that the officer did not give the proper instruction and still scored the test in a way negative to the defendant, the court may consider excluding some portion or all of the test.  Case law can be helpful on this point.  In State v. Clay, 34 Ohio St. 2d 250, 298 N.E.2d 137 (1973) the court ruled, “[h]owever, if by cross examination or otherwise, the defense places such compliance at issue, it then is incumbent upon the State, in order to maintain its burden of proof, to offer the methods and regulations into evidence and prove compliance.”  Some courts may try to take Judicial Notice of the manual (See Evid. R 201) when no manual was introduced.  In State v. Wells 2005-Ohio-5008 (Ohio Ct. App. 2d Dist., Montgomery County) held that the court cannot assume judicial notice when the record does not demonstrate a request for judicial notice or a reference to the manual by the trial court.

The validity of SFST results is dependent upon practitioners following the established, standardized procedures for test administration and scoring. NHTSA’s SFST Student Manualstates that the procedures demonstrated in the training program describe how SFSTs should be administered under ideal conditions, but that ideal conditions do not always exist in the field. Variations from ideal conditions, and deviations from the standardized procedures, might affect the evidentiary weight that should be given to test results.  Perhaps the most important statement about standardization can be found at VIII-19 which states:

IT IS NECESSARY TO EMPHASIZE THIS VALIDATION APPLIES ONLY WHEN:

  • THE TESTS ARE ADMINISTERED IN THE PRESCRIBED STANDARDIZED MANNER
  • THE STANDARDIZED CLUES ARE USED TO ASSESS THE SUSPECT’S PERFORMANCE
  • THE STANDARDIZED CRITERIA ARE EMPLOYED TO INTERPRET THAT PERFORMANCE

IF ANY ONE OF THE STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TEST ELEMENTS IS CHANGED THE VALIDITY IS COMPROMISED.

I have not added capitalization or bold to emphasize the importance of this warning.  The manual itself uses these indicia of importance at VIII-19.  Use this portion of the manual in conjunction with the State’s burden of proof (The State must demonstrate substantial compliance with the NHTSA manual by clear and convincing evidence) and you have some compelling arguments to make to the trier of fact.

THE HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS TEST

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs naturally as the eyes gaze to the side. Under normal circumstances, nystagmus occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. However, when a person is impaired by alcohol, nystagmus is exaggerated and may occur at lesser angles. An alcohol-impaired person will also often have difficulty smoothly tracking a moving object. In the HGN test, the officer observes the eyes of a suspect as the suspect follows a slowly moving object such as a pen or small flashlight, horizontally with his or her eyes. The examiner looks for three indicators of impairment in each eye: if the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly, if jerking is distinct when the eye is at maximum deviation, and if the angle of onset of jerking is within 45 degrees of center. If, between the two eyes, four or more clues appear, the suspect likely has a BAC of 0.08 or greater. NHTSA research found that this test allows proper classification of approximately 88 percent of suspects (Stuster and Burns, 1998). HGN may also indicate consumption of seizure medications, phencyclidine, a variety of inhalants, barbiturates, and other depressants.

The most important scientific study of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test undertaken by someone not associated with the government is J. Booker, The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: Fraudulent Science in American Courts, 44 Science and Justice 3 at 133 (July 2004).  The biggest takeaway for DUI attorneys is that the study revealed that the HGN test was improperly administered in the field 95% of the time. (95%!) Booker goes on to argue that the test was rushed into the field without proper scientific scrutiny, applying five hallmarks of fraudulent science.  The use of the HGN by officers in the field meets all five aspects of the fraudulent science test.  The two most important concerns raised in the study are 1) the demonstrable inability of officers in the field to properly estimate the 45-degree angle of onset, despite this being a lynchpin of the test, and 2) the apparent dichotomy between the test being used to determine the presence of alcohol at blood alcohol levels above .10 and its acceptance by the court as evidence of impairment, something inconsistent with the training of the officers. Barone, Defending Drinking Drivers, 2nd ed., pp 5-314.

THE ONE-LEG STAND TEST

In the One-Leg Stand test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (One thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) until told to put the foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. The officer looks for four indicators of impairment, including swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down. NHTSA research indicates that 83 percent of individuals who exhibit two or more such indicators in the performance of the test will have a BAC of 0.08 of greater (Stuster and Burns, 1998).  As stated above, the validity One-Leg Stand results are dependent upon law enforcement officers following the established, standardized procedures for test administration and scoring.  The criteria to establish a proper One-Leg Stand test are set forth in the NHTSA manaual as follows:

  • Requirement of a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface.
  • Is the individual over 65 years of age? Did officer question whether individual was over 65 years of age?
  • Did officer ask the individual whether he or she has any back, leg or middle ear problems?
  • Did the officer check to see whether the suspect was overweight by 50 or more pounds?
  • Did the officer check to see whether individual is wearing heels more than 2” high and if so, did he give them the opportunity to remove their shoes?
  • “Please stand with your feet together and your arms down at the sides, like this.” (Demonstrate)
  • “Do not start to perform the test until I tell you to do so.”
  • “Do you understand the instructions so far? (Make sure suspect indicates understanding).”
  • “When I tell you to start, raise one leg, either leg, with the foot approximately 6 inches off the ground, keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground.” (Demonstrate one-leg stance.)
  • “You must keep both legs straight, arms at your side.”
  • “While holding that position, count out loud in the following manner: one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, until told to stop.”
  • Demonstrate a count as follows: one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, etc.
  • “Officer should not look at his foot when conducting the demonstration” – OFFICER SAFETY
  • “Keep you arms at your sides at all times and keep watching the raised foot.”
  • “Do you understand?” (Make sure the suspect indicates understanding.)
  • “Go ahead and perform the test.”
  • “Officer should always time the 30 seconds. Test should be discontinued after 30 seconds.”
  • Observe the suspect from a safe distance.
  • “If the suspect puts the foot down, give instructions to pick the foot up again and continue counting from the point at which the foot touched the ground.”
  • “If the suspect counts very slowly, terminate the test after 30 seconds.”
  • “Observe the suspect from a safe distance and remain as motionless as possible during the test so as not to interfere.”

Information obtained from www.nhtsa.gov and is considered public information provided at www.ohiopd.com

Recall the one-leg stand test’s four indicators of impairment:

  1. swaying while balancing,
  2. using arms to balance,
  3. hopping to maintain balance, and
  4. putting the foot down.

The One-leg stand test requires your body to something unnatural; maintain a rigid body structure while precariously balanced.   The most natural reaction to being on one foot is to sway to find your center of gravity while lifting your arms like a tightrope walker.   Why do humans do this?  This technique provides several advantages. It distributes mass away from the pivot point and moves the center of mass out. This reduces angular velocity because her center of mass is now swinging through a longer arc. It takes longer to sweep out the same angle because the center of mass has a longer distance to go. The result is less tipping.  Millions of years of evolution have designed complex vestibular systems and wired our brains to act this way.  Unfortunately, swaying and holding your arms out will be counted as indicators of impairment according to the government.  As any skipping child will tell you, hopping is an instinctive way to quickly correct the body when attempting to locate the center of gravity. Again law enforcement uses natrual and  instinctive behavior to allege intoxication.  As documented in other articles on this blog, overweight people, older people, arthritic people and the simply uncoordinated may have trouble immediately finding and maintaining balance under ideal and fair conditions.  However law enforcement will unfairly count putting a foot down as an indicator of impairment.  It is up to your attorney to make a compelling defense against the use of this biased and unfair test to demonstrate that you were impaired.

Not only does the one-leg stand test require y0u to behave in an unnatural way, understanding its defects requires a jury to act in a unnatural way.  For example, if you see me trip over a crack in the sidewalk, you would consider me to be clumsy or uncoordinated.  If, however, you trip over a crack in the sidewalk you are much more likely to blame the crack.  The same is true for most people. This discrepancy is called the actor–observer bias.  In social psychology, thefundamental attribution error (also known as correspondence bias or attribution effect) describes the tendency to over-value dispositional or personality-based explanations for the observed behaviors of others while under-valuing situational explanations for those behaviors. The fundamental attribution error is most visible when people explain the behavior of others. It does not explain interpretations of one’s own behavior—where situational factors are often taken into consideration.  This bias can be devastating in a DUI trial when jurors are asked to consider your performance on field sobriety tests.  They will view the actions with a “bias” that they do not know they have.  Furthermore, they use this error to exclude factors of vital importance to both the scientific validity of the tests and your factual innocence.  For instance, jurors may under-value situational factors such as anxiety, lack of sleep, inherent lack of coordination, passing cars, environmental factors etc.  When we look at some of the underlying assumptions of the fundamental attribution error, we see some scary stuff that we, as advocates, must point out and overcome.

The Trooper gave me a “walk the line” test.  What was he looking for?

The Walk & Turn test is a divided attention test that is used as part of the three-test battery of field sobriety tests.  The officer will observe your performance on this test, looking for eight (8) clues of impairment.  You will be deemed to have failed the test if you present just two (2) of the eight (8) clues.  According to NHTSA, the Walk & Turn test is 68% accurate in determining alcohol intoxication above 0.10% BAC (when two or more clues are present).  See generally2006 NHTSA Student Manual, VII-4, VIII 10, et al.

The law enforcement officer will begin the test by asking you to stand with your right foot in front of your left, touching heel to toe.  He or she will then begin to give you a series of instructions and demonstrate how the test is to be conducted.  This part of the test is commonly referred to as the Instruction Stage. There are two clues that are scored during this preliminary phase:

Clue #1: Cannot Maintain Balance During Instructions

Clue #2: Starts the Test Too Early

The obvious tip here is to listen as best you can to the officer’s instructions.  Ask him or her to repeat any instruction that you did not understand as many times as is necessary to be fully informed of what is expected of you.  DO NOT BEGIN UNTIL TOLD TO DO SO.  This is fundamental and should be one of the easiest parts of the test to comply with.

NOTE: I have seen a number of cases where the subject is taken outside of the range of the cruiser camera to conduct the tests.  Take advantage of the recording by talking your way through the test. One client said, “Oh, I stepped off the line because of that passing truck.”  Another client demanded explanations when they came to the “turn” portion of the test.  Yet another client described the conditions (i.e. cracks in the road, poor shoes, cold, shivering). GIANT CAVEAT: Don’t say things that will hurt your case.  Unfortunately, more than one client has met the challenges of the Walk & Turn test by saying, “I can’t do that sober.”  Admissions against interest will be used against you.

NOTE: You are being judged on your ability to maintain position.  Raising your arms prior to the test will not and cannot be used as a clue. NHTSA specifically instructs that this clue must not be recorded “simply because the subject raises arms or wobbles slightly.” 1995 NHTSA Student Manual, VIII-20; 1995 NHTSA Instructor Manual, VIII-49; 2000 NHTSA Instructor Manual, VIII-42.

The remain clues of the Walk & Turn Test are:

  • The Subject Stops While Walking
  • The Subject Does Not Touch Heel-to-Toe
  • The Subject Steps Off the Line
  • The Subject Raises Arms for Balance
  • The Subject Turns Improperly
  • The Subject Takes the Incorrect Number of Steps

Clue #3: Stops While Walking.  In the early versions of the NHTSA Student Manual (1995 NHTSA Student Manual, VIII-20 later omitted) instructed the officer to only record this clue if the subject stopped to steady himself or herself.  The officer should also not record a clue if the subject is merely walking slowly or carefully.

Clue #4: Heel to Toe.  Would it surprise you to learn that the subject is not required to actually touch heel to toe?  According the NHTSA standards, the officer is only to count this clue if a gap of more than one-half inch is present.

Clue #5: Stepping Off the Line:  Originally, the officer was required to use an actual designated straight line. 1992 NHTSA Student Manual, VIII-19; 1995 NHTSA Instructor Manual, VIII-41; 2000 NHTSA Instructor Manual, VIII-36, but the “straight line must be clearly visible,” 1992 NHTSA Student Manual, VIII-18. Later versions of the NHTSA Student Manual removed the requirement of an actual designated line and allowed the officer to use an imaginary line.  Which raises the following question… “How thick was your imaginary line officer because ours was pretty wide.”

Clue #6: Using Arms for Balance.  If you put most human beings on a balance beam and ask them to walk across, the vast majority will instinctively raise their arms to maintain their balance.  During the walk and turn test we ask people to turn off this instinct and walk with their arms at their sides.  If a subject raises their arms more than six inches, it is used against them.  It is vital that the officer be heard giving this instruction as it is so fundamentally awkward.   If your client was never told to keep his arms at his or her side, then make sure that they are not “clued” on this portion of the test.

Clue #7: Improper Turn.  No other portion of the test is as unfair to a novice subject than the turn.  It must be done with precision.  More emphasis is placed on how it looks than how it is accomplished.  If done with deft balance but improper technique it will be counted against the subject.  Make sure the officer instructs the subject properly and make sure the officer demonstrates the turn properly.  My experience tells me that defense counsel can use the inherent unfairness of this test to great effect for the defendant.

Clue #8: Improper Number of Steps.  It may sound odd, but extreme stress caused by the intimidating presence of an intimidating law enforcement officer can cause people to do strange and amazing things.  Some people have a fight or flight response kick in and they run.  Other people shut down or pass out or cry.  Having viewed numerous videos of good people in this stressful environment, I have seen many people “forget” how to count to nine, mess up the alphabet and say horribly stupid things.  The overriding question to ask is whether nerves or intoxication contribute to your client’s missteps.  Jurors, in my experience, are willing to give your client great latitude if given a proper context.

Winning!

A jury instruction which is given at every Ohio DUI trial states,

  • UNDER THE INFLUENCE. “Under the influence means that the defendant consumed some (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse), whether mild or potent, in such a quantity, whether small or great, that it adversely affected and appreciably impaired the defendant’s actions, reactions, or mental processes under the circumstances then existing and deprived him of that clearness of intellect and control of himself which he would otherwise have possessed. The question is not how much (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse) would affect an ordinary person. The question is what effect did any (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse), consumed by the defendant, have on him at the time and place involved. If the consumption of (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse) so affected the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the defendant so as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to operate the vehicle, then the defendant was under the influence.

As can be seen from the definition provided to the jury, some subjectivity does come into play. A skillful prosecutor will attempt to narrow this definition. It will be up to your attorney to demonstrate to the jury that your ability to drive was not impaired at the time of you OVI arrest. It is important to understand that you can be in violation of the law by simply being under the influence. The officer does not need to test your blood breath or urine if he/she believes that sufficient evidence exists for your arrest.  Charles M. Rowland II has worked hard to amass the skills, credentials and experience necessary to fight and win your Ohio OVI case.  He provides this information so that you will feel empowered and will be informed enough to make the best decision in hiring competent OVI counsel.  If you have been arrested in Ohio on charges of OVI, it is important that you consult an attorney right away.  Charles M. Rowland is available 24/7 at 937-776-2671 (DUI Hotline); during business hours at 937-218-1DUI (318-1384) or 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263); text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500 for immediate help on your cell phone; or you can follow DaytonDUI on Twitter or Dayton DUI/OVI defense on Facebook.  Charles M. Rowland II limits his practice to the representation of the accused drunk driver.  ”All I Do Is DUI Defense.”