Interviewer: When you meet with the client and the subject of their field sobriety tests comes up, how do they typically feel about their own performance of how they’ve done?
Michael Munoz: A lot of clients tell me that the officer told them that they passed their tests but then, when you get the police report, you find out that the officer say that’s not the case. That’s really interesting because you have an officer saying something incorrect to somebody who knows for what reason and why. One of the things I tell clients is, “Whatever happened at the scene has happened and we’re going to do everything we can to defend you. We can’t change that now”, and when I explain to them in the future, you do not want to do field sobriety tests and things of that nature. It’s my job to defend the field sobriety tests and when we’ll have to go into that into a courtroom or at trial, I’ll handle that and that’s not something that they need to worry about anymore because it’s a done deal if it’s done.
The Medical Conditions Employed as a Viable Defense Against Field Sobriety Tests
Interviewer: Are there any sort of medical conditions that I can inform you about that might be able to help my case because of the standardized field sobriety tests?
Michael Munoz: Yes, I ask my potential clients if they have any medical conditions and I want to know everything about them in terms of the medical history because that will be something we’ll use as a defense if they have poor field sobriety tests. I want to know whether or not they’ve ever had knee surgeries, ankle surgeries, hard conditions, vertigo any other issues, we ask them we want to know those issues because that can be something we can use to show poor performance and why that happened.
People May be Hesitant to Disclose Past Injuries or Medical Conditions to a Police Officer
Interviewer: Do you think a lot of people are hesitant sometimes too if the police officer asks someone like, “Well, do you have injuries”, “No, I don’t”, because they may be embarrassed and maybe an old injury they may have and they may feel like, “Well, I can do this”, like the sense of accomplishment?
Michael Munoz: I don’t know about embarrassed but a lot of people just say, “I got injured really bad 20 years ago and I thought I shouldn’t tell them”, and then all of a sudden they start doing the tests and all of a sudden they don’t realize the injury’s causing problems. Some people also they think of injuries different than other people. Some people say, “Well, I am not going to talk about that injury because I don’t think that’s a big deal”, when the truth is they should be telling the officer every little injuries, so the officer knows. So, also I can explain to the jury like listen, my client told the officer about that that day.
Obesity May also Hinder Performance of a Person in Field Sobriety Tests
Interviewer: What about someone who’s overweight, for instance? Would that help their case and they say, “Hey, look, I’m pretty overweight here”?
Michael Munoz: Yes. I mean if someone is overweight to the point where it would affect their ability and their coordination, that’s going to be kind of a common sense argument in any kind of case.
The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are Administered to Senior Citizens as Well
Interviewer: Are these standard field sobriety tests administered to senior citizens as well?
Michael Munoz: They are. Police routinely administer them to senior citizens. NHTSA actually says that they are not effective for senior citizens because of the physical conditions issues that I’ve mentioned. So, there is a good chance when defending these cases over senior citizens and you can get the field sobriety tests inadmissible based on that.