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The DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual: Using Their Playbook Against Them
By Stephen L. Jones
The DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual1 (SFST
Manual) is the government’s bible. It covers what the observing,
investigating and arresting police officer is trained to “find.” The
SFST Manual consists of 16 sessions that cover topics ranging from note
taking2 to report writing and moot court.3 Remarkably, far
too much of a defense attorney’s scrutiny of the government’s case and
hence the attorney’s cross-examination centers on the administration of
the so-called “field sobriety tests.” Lawyers overlook the Vehicle in
Motion4 and Personal Contact5 sessions (sections). It’s time to refocus.
These two sessions set forth certain specific cues or indicators that
the officer is trained to look for during the entire time the officer is
with the client. This includes the time of driving, pulling over,
interacting with the officer, complying with the officer’s requests,
getting out of the car, walking to the back of the car, standing at the
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