Field Sobriety Testing in Michigan

by baronedefensefirm on September 28, 2010

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed standardized procedures for the administration of the three field sobriety tests (FSTs) which NHTSA considers the most reliable. These standardized FSTs (SFSTs) are taught to and used by police officers across the country when investigating DUI cases.  These FSTs are used in Michigan for investing Michigan drivers for suspicion that they are DUI.

The SFSTs are designed to be used by police officers to establish probable cause to arrest individuals who are under suspicion of driving while intoxicated and to support the administration of a breathalyzer test which measures more directly a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). As direct, independent evidence of intoxication, however, SFSTs are extremely unreliable and have an immense margin of error. Furthermore, individual officers often administer the tests differently or under non-ideal testing circumstances, further reducing their reliability.

Here is a video of  a non-standardized field sobriety test.

The NHTSA police officer training course separates the typical DUI investigation into three “phases”.  These are (1) Vehicle in Motion, (2) Personal or Face-to-Face Contact, and; (3) Pre-Arrest Screening.  The SFST’s are administered during phase three as part of the pre-arrest screening, and include only the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and the One-Leg Stand (OLS).

According to the NHTSA training manual, if the these tests are not administered according to the standardized protocol the results are “compromised.

If any other field tasks were administered in your case, or if these three tests were not given together, then the officer did not follow the NHTSA protocol.  A failure to follow the NHTSA may provide a basis upon which to overturn your Michigan DUI arrest.

Get a FREE confidential CASE EVALUATION on your Michigan OWI/OWVI/DUI by calling (248) 306-9159, or filling out this consultation request form. Call now, there’s no obligation!


Related posts:

  1. NHTSA Field Sobriety Tests Fatally Flawed
  2. Standardized Field Sobriety Testing in DUI Litigation
  3. Michigan Requires Field Sobriety Tests to be Standardized
  4. Mistakes in Police Investigation
  5. Majority of Michigan’s OWI Arrests Based on Faulty Evidence

This post was written by...

– who has written 204 posts on Michigan Drunk Driving Law Firm.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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