A Wyoming DWUI Defense Attorney Can Challenge Field Sobriety Tests

Police often use Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) in a Wyoming DWUI stop to help assess whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance. The officer uses the Field Sobriety Tests to establish probable cause to continue with the investigation, and to determine whether the officer will ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test or arrest you for DWUI.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified three standardized tests that are considered to be accurate indicators of whether a driver has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .1% or more (note that the legal limit in Wyoming is .08%):

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test assesses exaggerated, involuntary, jerky movements of the eye, which can be caused by the use of alcohol
  • Walk and turn (walking a straight line and turning without falling over or losing balance)
  • One leg stand, which checks balance and motor coordination.

During a Wyoming traffic stop for a suspected DWUI a police officer may ask you to perform one, two, or all three of these tests. During trainings, officers are taught to look for “clues” of impairment, such as poor focus, poor coordination, and difficulty completing the tasks.

The Field Sobriety Tests are scored based on the number of “clues” the officer observes. At trial, the officer will be prepared to testify whether you performed these tests “as demonstrated and instructed.” If you were unable to successfully perform the tests, the police officer can testify about this fact as evidence of your alleged intoxication.

In addition to the “standardized” Field Sobriety Tests, many police departments also use “non-standardized” tests. While these have not been approved by the NHTSA as reliable, police departments commonly use them as part of a DWUI investigation.

Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Non-standardized Field Sobriety Tests for a DWUI may include:

  • Reciting the alphabet (forwards or backwards)
  • Counting backwards
  • A balance test, such as standing on one leg
  • Touching your finger to your nose

While police departments often use these non-standardized tests to assess a driver’s impairment, there is no NHTSA research indicating that they are reliable indicators of intoxication.

Without a proven relationship between the test and a driver’s level of intoxication or impairment, a skilled and experienced Wyoming DWUI defense attorney can challenge the results of the test, which can then be used to negotiate a better plea bargain, or to have the case against you thrown out.

How Can a Wyoming DWUI Defense Attorney Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests?

If you have been charged with a DWUI in Wyoming, working with a team of skilled and experienced criminal defense professionals will give you a better chance of beating the charge.

During cross-examination of the police officer, your Wyoming DWUI defense attorney might question whether the officer is getting paid overtime for appearing in court. If the answer is yes, your attorney may be able to argue to the jury that the officer is making questionable arrests to pad his or her paycheck with overtime hours.

Another tactic often employed by a skilled criminal defense attorney is to attack the testing conditions. For example:

  • Was the testing area sloped? Very few highways are perfectly level, which makes it harder for the defendant to perform the FSTs.
  • Does the officer know how the defendant performed the tests when he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Perhaps the defendant is not terribly coordinated, or was suffering from pain associated with even a minor injury.
  • Was the defendant tired? Stressed? Does she generally have poor coordination? Any of these are reasons for poor performance on the Field Sobriety Tests.

A good DWUI defense attorney can also question the cause of a condition the officer cited as a reason for suspected the defendant was under the influence. For example:

  • Bloodshot eyes could be caused by any number of factors, such as smog, eye strain, fatigue, or even contact lenses.
  • There is no way for an officer to tell how much a person had to drink based simply on an “odor of alcohol.”
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus is seldom properly administered properly, and a skilled DWUI defense attorney may be able to establish that the test was not properly performed, or that the HGN condition was the result of a cause other than intoxication.

Charged with a Wyoming DWUI? Contact Just Criminal Law

If you or someone you care about is facing charges for a Wyoming DWUI, it’s important that you have a team of skilled and experienced DWUI defense professionals on your side.

At Just Criminal Law, my team of DWUI defense professionals will work tirelessly to challenge the evidence, and protect your one shot at justice.

Contact Just Criminal Law today for assistance defending you against Wyoming DWUI charges. Call (307) 686-6556, email office@justcriminallaw.com, or complete our online form.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.