Many police officers in Boulder, Colorado, conduct field sobriety tests to check for impairment. However, the tests may not be an accurate indication of DUI, and drivers can challenge them.
Challenges to field sobriety tests
Only three tests are admissible in court, which includes the horizontal nystagmus test the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. These tests check the driver’s ability to follow directions, balance, and coordination the officer uses as proof for DUI. Nonstandard tests, such as counting backward or touching fingers to the nose, aren’t standard tests and are non-admissible in court.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has guidelines officers must follow when conducting the tests, such as explaining the test. The officer should conduct the tests on even, dry ground, which may be proven with photos of the test site.
Certain medical conditions may make the tests difficult for sober driver, such as age, weight, and musculoskeletal conditions. Officers should ask the driver if they have contacts and consider any medical or mental conditions that may impact results.
Suppressing evidence in DUI cases
Drivers who believe the officer did not follow proper procedure may file a motion to suppress evidence for their case. A motion to suppress evidence is commonly filed by the lawyer before the trial in DUI cases to request the removal of evidence.
A motion to suppress is commonly used when the officer gathered evidence from an illegal search and seizure. An officer also needs reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over, such as speeding, or the evidence may get dismissed. During the hearing, both sides are allowed to argue their points and the judge decides whether or not to grant the motion.
Drivers in Colorado have the right to refuse field sobriety tests and pre-arrest breathalyzers without penalty. If they take the sobriety tests, there is a chance they can get dismissed as evidence.