Every day we receive 10 calls from someone arrested for DUI about roadsides. One of the first questions asked is should I have done roadsides and will they be used against me. Seems like an answer we should share. Here is what I say…If the officer pulled you over and politely asked you to list all the reasons why you are too drunk to be driving, what would you say?
Roadsides what are they
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST), or Roadsides, consist of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk-And-Turn (WAT) and One-Leg Stand (OLS) – the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) endorsed tests have been accepted in Colorado since 1995.
Jurors when educated by a good defense attorney realize that walking on the uneven shoulder of the road with cars whizzing is junk science. They generally do not give a lot of weight to the Walk-And-Turn (WAT) and One-Leg Stand (OLS). Jurors will usually try and fail these 2 tests during jury deliberations – so they are not the problem.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – is the test most jurors focus on. Nystagmus is the involuntary movements of the eye. Everyone has Nystagmus but it is rarely detectible to the naked eye on a sober person. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system hindering the brain’s ability to properly control the eye muscles. The more you drink the more it effects your ocular-motor behavior accentuated the nystagmus becomes. Don’t believe me try it on an intoxicated friend or family member 3 times on day…before, during and at the end of the night.
Simply put, the more you drink, the more noticeably your eyes shake.
SFST is a full “search” in the constitutional sense of the term (People v. Carlson, 667 P2d 310 (Colo. 1984) under the 5th Amendment. If the officer said please tell me all the reasons you are too drunk to drive would you do it?
A detailed breakdown of what they are looking for in each test can be found in the power-point presentation below:
Here is the answer to your roadsides questions…
Roadsides are just the officer obtaining all the evidence in the form of roadside ‘statements.’ It is a search under the 5th Amendment. Like any statement it can, and will, be used against you. Besides, no one looks good trying to complete roadside tests on an officers’ body camera, trust me. You should politely decline to do roadsides, and then either choose a breath test, blood test or refuse to take the test depending upon your unique circumstances.
Photo courtesy of the talented Steve Buissinne on Pixabay (#stevebuissine) https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/stevebuissinne/ https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/pixabay/
This is explicitly not legal advice – call a lawyer to discuss your unique circumstances.