When Drivers Don’t Blow, Field Sobriety Tests Tell the Tale

Today Villalobos & Associates’ attorney, Klaudia Stolarczuk, successfully defended a client who was accused of DUI.  The client was stopped under suspicion of DUI after a police officer saw the client veer slightly into the adjacent lane.  The client told the officer that he had been at a restaurant with coworkers and had a few drinks with his food.  The client told the officer that  the reason he veered was because he looked down momentarily when he received a text message on his phone.

Because the client refused to take a breathalyzer test, the sole evidence presented by the state was the client’s performance of the field sobriety tests.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) helped develop the battery of three tests that law enforcement officials commonly use to determine if a driver is impaired: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test; the Walk and Turn test; and the One Leg-Stand test.  Attorneys commonly refer to the tests as the “fields.”

The officer administered the three field sobriety tests, all of which were captured on the officer’s dashboard camera.  At trial, Stolarczuk cited the NHTSA standards of how to administer the field sobriety tests against the officer, noting several factors which could have caused the client to perform worse than he would have under normal conditions.

Stolarczuk pointed out that the client told the officer that he had knee surgery, which may have made it harder to perform the One Leg-Stand test.

Stolarczuk also pointed out that the client only faltered during the Walk and Turn test when he was walking towards the officer’s flashing lights, which can distract and disorient people trying to walk in a tight straight line.  She also pointed out that there was fast moving traffic on the street, which could have caused the client to be more anxious and distracted than if he took the tests further away from traffic.  Indeed, at one point on the video, the officer jumped as a car sped past and exclaimed “whoa, that guy almost hit me!”

After cross-examination, the judge was so convinced that the client was innocent, he did not even need to hear the defense’s case before he found the client not guilty.    While other law firms would rather take a plea bargain, Villalobos & Associates has extensive experience taking DUI cases to trial and winning.