Police Officers May Not Follow Training on Field Sobriety Tests

The first “SFST manual” (or Standard Field Sobriety Test) was very short and authorized for use in police training in 1984. At the time it received little attention, since no standards were used or even suggested to officers beyond just making up “tests” that were given to DUI-DWI suspects. Updated and “improved” NHTSA manuals were produced under NHTSA’s federal authority in 1987, 1989, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and most recently in 2015.Each version of the manual systematically dropped a few of the original studies’ protections to the driving public. These protections were designed to be fair and to prevent false arrests of persons who might smell of alcohol, but not be impaired by alcohol at all. The protections for certain “categories” of inappropriate candidates for “testing” old and overweight citizens that were suggested by Marcelline Burns and Herb Moskowitz have been taken out of the manual, so that an overweight, 95 year old grandmother with two artificial hips is held to the same scoring standards as an 18 year old gymnast at her ideal body weight.The lack of basic common sense to claim that these evaluations should be given to ALL people using the same pre-screening and scoring method is crystal clear, yet police use these bogus evaluations every day to make DUI arrests. The final straw came when the 2015 manual completely eliminated the requirement that had been published in BOLD print in EVERY prior manual. This critically important admonition mandated that officers follow the standardized procedures for attempting to make a valid DWI-DUI arrest decision. That warning, which was contained in Session VIII of every previous manual, required the following compliance by any officers who used the NHTSA standardized training to arrest:

“IT IS NECESSARY TO EMPHASIZE THIS VALIDATION APPLIES ONLY WHEN:

THE TESTS ARE ADMINISTERED IN THE PRESCRIBED, STANDARDIZED MANNER THE STANDARDIZED CLUES ARE USED TO ASSESS THE SUSPECT’S PERFORMANCE THE STANDARDIZED CRITERIA ARE EMPLOYED TO INTERPRET THAT PERFORMANCE.
IF ANY OF THE STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TEST ELEMENTS IS CHANGED, THE VALIDITY IS COMPROMISED.”

After this federal government approved abandonment of any and all “accountability” to follow the rules, what FOOL would stand on the roadside and try to complete a series of unknown “evaluations” when the officer has been alleviated of the simple task to follow all the rules? Any competent criminal defense attorney who focuses on DUI-DWI law will tell you “no way do you submit.”

Copyright 2015. William C. Head. All Rights Reserved.