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Roadside Field Sobriety Tests Do Not Show Impairment Says Judge Garrow

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Nov 16, 2012 | 1 Comment

The other day I waited with my nervous client in King County District Court for our DUI matter to be called.  The case in front of ours involved a motion to restrict the meaning of the roadside field sobriety tests.  The great work and labors of the heroic defense attorney were met by rejection and disapproval from the prosecutor and the judge.  Its all I could do to remain in my seat and not remind the parties that the issue of their litigation had been resolved previously in that Courthouse.  Nobody likes a "know it all" so I sat on my hands.

The issue resolved by Judge Garrow last year continues to reappear daily in King County District Court Cases but without any reflection or recollection on the well reasoned ruling already deciding the issue.  True, its not controlling but it is helpful and more.  So here it is.

Judge Garrow ruled on the admissibility of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, which officers administer at the roadside during a DUI investigation.  At the time of the ruling she was sitting in North East District Court of King County, she will be in moving to Bellevue District Court in January 2013 during the judges annual rotation.

The important part of Judge Garrow's decision is that she found that a jury may be confused if an officer testifies to a belief of impairment based solely on the SFSTs.  In english what that means is that the SFSTs alone don’t establish impairment.

Courts-Order-on-FST-Motion.pdf
Judge Garrow's Ruling on Field Sobriety Tests


About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.

Comments

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Nov 17, 2012 at 21:25:09

I agree completely. I recently have had several calls from people who were not impaired yet “failed” field sobriety tests. In addition, field sobriety manifestations are exaggerated in our under 21 cases. Police officers still need to prove probable cause to arrest, so the field sobriety results are exaggerated. Yet, then only need to prove .02 to convict a Georgia under 21 year old driver.

What I have seen is that many under 21 drivers come back as .04 – .05, yet the field sobriety tests (as described) would seem to indicate a much higher B.A.C. This is because the police still need to establish PC to arrest.

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