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The Champion

January-February 2013 , Page 48 

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By Andrew Mishlove

The Basics of Field Sobriety Testing and The Rules of Evidence

“Walk the line.”Everyone knows that when people hear those words, they’re being tested to see if they’re drunk. DUI defense lawyers often hear clients say, “I couldn’t do that if I was sober!” Although lawyers hope that they didn’t phrase it in quite those terms to the arresting officer, the point is well-taken. The now ubiquitous standardized field sobriety tests are unscientific, unfair, and misunderstood. However, if they are unchallenged, they have tremendous persuasive effect on the court and the jury.

This article is intended as an introduction to the subject of field sobriety testing. It will discuss the basics of standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) and the rules of evidence that may allow or disallow their use at trial.

History of FSTs

While drunken driving has been illegal for years, it was not until the 1950s that breath testing came into widespread use. Thus, there was a time when drunk driving case

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