CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

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Roadside Sobriety Tests (Standardized Field Sobriety Tests)

The Colorado Supreme Court has determined that roadside sobriety tests are a “search” that must be supported by probable cause for either DUI, DWAI, or the tests must be performed “voluntarily”.

No Miranda warning is required for roadside sobriety tests, as they do not implicate the privilege against self incrimination.

Police officers in Colorado are trained in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) in accordance with the standards promulgated by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). These SFST’s are applied in all 50 states as screening devices to determine whether an arrest should be made for a DUI or DWAI.

In reality, often times police officers have already made an arrest determination even before SFST’s are conducted. This is contrary to NHTSA guidelines.

Three (3) SFST’s are recommended in the NHTSA Manual for DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. These three tests are: 1) HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus); 2) Walk-and-Turn; and 3) the One-Leg Stand. The One Leg Stand Test and the Walk-and-Turn Test are both divided attention tests, which require a driver to closely concentrate on multiple things at the same time.

It is important for defense counsel to have a comprehensive understanding of these tests in order to effectively cross-examine the arresting officer. The administration and results of the tests can be and should be attacked in Court.

Some Colorado police officers also administer other sobriety tests, but it is important to note that these are not endorsed by the NHTSA. One such test is the Rhomberg Test. This test is designed to determine how much a person sways with his or her head tilted back. The problem with this test (but helpful to the defense) is that all persons sway, including sober persons, under the administration of this test.

Some Colorado police officers will also administer an alphabet or counting test, which may include reciting the alphabet backwards. Variations of these tests may violate a person’s Fifth (5th) Amendment.

A finger-to-nose test is also sometimes administered by Colorado police officers. However this test is also not endorsed by NHTSA.

A preliminary breath test (PBT) is a roadside sobriety test. However, its results are inadmissible at trial because PBT tests are very inaccurate. It’s critical that an police officer not testify to the results of a PBT at trial.

Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN) will be administered by some Colorado police officers. However, according to NHTSA, VGN is only present in persons who are under the influence of inhalants, CNS depressants, or PCP. VGN evidence is not equally accepted in courts at the same level as HGN evidence.

Denver Drunk Driving Attorney Monte Robbins has been certified in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) at the same level as Colorado Police Officers. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI or DUWAI, call Colorado DUI Attorney Monte Robbins immediately for a free case evaluation at 303-355-5148 or 970-301-5541.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
"An excellent lawyer choice for my son who was charged with driving while his license was revoked. DMV had mistakenly sent (3) letters of revocation to the incorrect address, so I hired Monty to prove that my son never knew his license was revoked. Monty kept me informed at all times as to what was happening and what he doing to prove my son's innocence in this matter. We were to appear in court on 29 March 2012 and Monte informed us on 27 March 2012, that the case had been dismissed!!! Monte charged a fair, flat rate for what he did in this matter and should the need arise to hire a lawyer or to recommend a lawyer, I would not hesitate to give Monte's name.” Linda
★★★★★
"I consulted three other attorneys on my traffic offense in Colorado and none of them thought I could beat it. Then I consulted with Monte Robbins. He not only relieved my warrant without my presence in Colorado, but he got my habitual driving offense reduced to an infraction. I was up against the wall on this case but thanks to Monte miracles are possible. I have hired my share of attorneys and Monte Robbins has produced the best results for me yet. After being without my driving privileges for ten years I paid a small fine and am legal with a clean record. I Highly recommend this attorney." Steve
★★★★★
"I hired Monte J. Robbins to represent me. He gave 110% to my case never rushed me off the phone, quick to gather all information regarding my case. Monte is very knowledgeable and helped me out a lot. He kept me informed every step of the way through my case. I was always able to get a hold of him for any questions i had. The outcome of my case was way better then i had expected. Monte did a excellent job on my case and I would highly recommend him to anyone. Monte won my case and I am confident that he can do the same for anyone else." Jeremy