We've all watched enough COPS to know what field sobriety testing is, it is the main tool that the police use to get people to incriminate themselves for drinking and driving. Every officer in Oakland County that deals with owi cases uses field sobriety tests. Some better trained and smarter officers remember how to do the standardized tests, while others simply make up their own. Everything from reciting the alphabet to standing on one leg is used by officers to prove intoxication later when you are in court.
Although most people don't realize it, you can refuse to participate in sobriety tests. There is no law in Michigan that requires that people participate in the tests. Further, even when operating while intoxicated suspects do well on the tests, the officers still seem to find a reason why the tests were failed.
Sobriety tests can be broken down into two types of tests, the standardized tests and the non-standardized tests. There are only three standardized tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus (the pen in the eye) test, the one leg stand test, and the walk and turn test. Non standardized tests include everything else, including alphabet tests, counting tests, and many other tests the officers have developed by themselves.
Challenging the field sobriety tests is a key component to any successful owi trial. The standardized tests have a specific set of requirements and they must be administered the same way every time. Most officers are trained in these, yet they almost always fail to properly administer the field sobriety tests. We have had great success in challenging officers lack of understanding of the tests.