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Case History: Field Sobriety Tests

Interviewer: Can you share a case history or two about your clients’ experiences with the field sobriety tests?

Eric Sachs: I’m handling one right now where I have a trucker who was pulled over for what he says was nothing, that he was doing literally 55 miles an hour, the traffic wouldn’t allow him to travel any faster. He was the one who was actually pulled over already because he has a bad back. He told the police officer that he can’t do these field sobriety tests because he just physically incapable of doing them.

He was very tired. Of course, the police put down in their report his physical condition from their observation of the red eyes. He said he had nothing to drink at all. The officer put down that he smelled of alcohol, and to make matters worse, he then said that he refused to cooperate.

Then when he went in front of the judge, of course, in New York State, his license was immediately suspended and he had an immediate issue. How does he make a living, when he was just trying to be cooperative and did nothing wrong?

It Can Be Helpful to Obtain Background Information about the Officer’s Arrest History

We took the time to do a Freedom of Information about the police officer, as much as we could find, and found out that this is one of those police officers that makes a DWI arrest almost every single tour. He loves to pull over truckers more than anybody else. My contention when I go through the DA’s office and I show them all of this information that they will be suspicious of what the story actually is with this officer. I’m hoping to get my client’s case dismissed.

If You Are a Commercial Driver Facing a Potential DWI Charge, Should You Perform the Field Sobriety Tests?

Interviewer: Just to recap, if I’m a trucker and I got pulled over and I was subjected to a field sobriety test and I’m facing a DUI charge here, what should I do?

Eric Sachs: Certainly, I start out by saying that I almost never recommend that people submit to any of these tests. I tell the truckers, and I tell everybody to be cooperative, but if you refuse to take a chemical test in New York you’re going to lose your license.

It Is Advisable to Explain to the Officers You Are Not Physically Capable of Performing the Field Sobriety Tests

I would tell the truckers to explain to the police officer that, first of all a lawyer told you not to take these, and number two you’re not physically capable. You can explain that you have injuries and physical conditions that will not allow you to take these tests. With commercial truckers, assuming that they’ve had nothing to drink, I’d tell them to ask for a blood test, not a breath test.

If they have to take a breath test they have to take it. You can’t refuse or you’ll lose your license. But if they ask you take a breath test, take it and then insist on a blood test, and if they won’t give it to you call a lawyer right away. We can try to have a blood test done for you as quickly as we can. I don’t trust the machines because I think they’re inaccurate. Innocent people are convicted because of them.

By: Eric Sachs