Interviewer: What’s the purpose of the one foot balance typically?
Michael Munoz: They’re all really the same, they’re measuring your coordination and your ability to follow directions. The One Leg Stand is really unfair because there are many people who have injuries, age may be one issue, a lot of different things that could cause them to not be able to stand on one foot. It’s a test that is very subjective and I really don’t think it’s fair. There are people who have bad knees and bad legs. The officers will defend this fact by saying well, they asked the person whether or not they have the injuries, and that’s true, they do ask people. But routinely, in my experience, they’ll ask someone and the person will tell them about the injury but they’ll still make the person do it anyway. So, the test is pretty subjective and it’s not effective.
The Extraneous Factors that Affect the Performance of Field Sobriety Tests
Interviewer: Are there any extraneous factors that may also cause someone to perform poorly that one can argue maybe doing that at night, you have all these cars around with headlights?
Michael Munoz: Sure. There are things that are distracting, uneven ground, maybe cold or hot weather, the shoes that you’re wearing, there are a number of factors. And there are other things that can be used as defense.
The Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Employed by Police Officers
Interviewer: Are there any tests that are non-standard that a police officer may have someone do? I’ve heard about the test like touching fingers to the nose, things like that?
Michael Munoz: Yes. There are officers who still conduct those tests. We argue to keep any of those tests or any of that testimony out, we believe since they are not standardized tests, they should not be admitted. NHTSA has not standardized them so the court should not admit them either but there are officers that will still try to do those tests. There’s counting back and forth, some officers do the alphabet, all those are non-standardized tests and we work as hard as we can to keep those out from coming in.
Police May Administer Field Sobriety Tests to an Obviously Intoxicated Person In Order to Gain More Evidence
Interviewer: There are shows out there that depict or reality shows or whatever that’ll show police performing these tests on an individual who’s obviously drunk or intoxicated, the person really shouldn’t be walking at all but the police officer will still do the field sobriety tests, and why do they do this?
Michael Munoz: They’re looking to gain more evidence. I mean they want to use those tests to try to tell the jury, “Well, scientifically we know he’s impaired because we’ve done these standardized tests”, but it’s very routine for them.
The Field Sobriety Tests May be Construed as a Checklist for Police Officers
Interviewer: So, could you say that it becomes kind of like a checklist for the officer?
Michael Munoz: It is a checklist. They have a checklist and a protocol in DUI arrest and their goal’s to get as much of that done as possible to try to prove a case against somebody.