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  • Field Sobriety Test

    Hello, first time poster and big supporter of Law Enforcement. Quick questions out of curiosity. I love to watch Live PD on A&E and I notice when a suspected drunk driver is requested to preform a field sobriety test they are usually asked beforehand if they have any medical problems that would prevent them from preforming the tests. Ive never seen anyone say yes. My question is what happens if they say they do have a medical issue that will effect their performance?

    Last question, if a person fails the FST, due to anxiety or other reasons, and then later blows 0.00 and has a clean blood test will be they immediately let go or does it still have to go through the courts?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and thank you for your service!

  • #2
    Originally posted by threeofnine View Post

    Last question, if a person fails the FST, due to anxiety or other reasons, and then later blows 0.00 and has a clean blood test will be they immediately let go or does it still have to go through the courts?
    Usually drugs are involved in that case

    the "anxiety " was screened out before the SFST are administered
    Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

    My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post

      Usually drugs are involved in that case

      the "anxiety " was screened out before the SFST are administered
      Thanks for the reply, I admit I do not know how this stuff works. If someone blows 0.00 would a drug test not be administered?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by threeofnine View Post

        Thanks for the reply, I admit I do not know how this stuff works. If someone blows 0.00 would a drug test not be administered?
        A DRE (drug recognition expert) would administer a more in-depth examination to determine if the subject is under the influence of drugs (and to rule out impairment due to a medical condition).

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by threeofnine View Post
          Hello, first time poster and big supporter of Law Enforcement. Quick questions out of curiosity. I love to watch Live PD on A&E and I notice when a suspected drunk driver is requested to preform a field sobriety test they are usually asked beforehand if they have any medical problems that would prevent them from preforming the tests. Ive never seen anyone say yes. My question is what happens if they say they do have a medical issue that will effect their performance?

          Last question, if a person fails the FST, due to anxiety or other reasons, and then later blows 0.00 and has a clean blood test will be they immediately let go or does it still have to go through the courts?

          Thanks for taking the time to read this and thank you for your service!
          If a subject states they have a medical condition we will take this into consideration when making our assessment. We may also offer them alternative tests, if for example, they are unable to balance on one leg due to a medical condition. If they tell us they don't have any medical conditions then they'll have a difficult time using it later as a defense in court. Keep in mind, if someone is unable or unwilling to complete the SFST, we can still make a determination as to their impairment based on our interaction and observations.

          Comment


          • #6
            The "medical condition" question also helps to eliminate later challenges to our findings, such as the suspect suddenly becoming a diabetic/unable to stand due to vertigo/etc the day of the trial.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the replies. Would the DRE exam also include a drug test? I want to be clear I am all for DUI enforcement. When I was a college student my Mustang GT got totalled by a drunk that had just been released from, I believe, a 1 year prison sentence for his 4th DUI only two months prior. He had no insurance and it wrecked my rates for a few years.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by threeofnine View Post
                Thanks for the replies. Would the DRE exam also include a drug test?
                Maybe , maybe not. It all depends on the results of the testing

                I frequently transport urine samples to our contracted lab for our DRE.

                Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by threeofnine View Post
                  Thanks for the replies. Would the DRE exam also include a drug test?
                  As Iowa #1603 stated, a chemical drug test (blood or urine) may or may not be administered.

                  In my state, a driver suspected of driving under the influence of drugs is NOT required to submit to a chemical test and cannot be penalized for their refusal (unlike someone who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol where implied consent applies). A driver MAY be offered a voluntary urine test at the station (rather than a blood test which would require a trip to the hospital). However, the problem with the urine test is that different drugs metabolize at different rates. Marijuana, for example, will show up in urine for several days. So a positive test won't help determine whether a driver was impaired by the drug at the time of the incident. On the other hand, the DRE will be able to make this assessment with far more accuracy.

                  Regardless, if a chemical test is administered, it typically takes some time to get the results back from the lab. The decision whether to charge/not charge will be made based on the DRE's examination. The results of the chemical test may be used as additional evidence in court.
                  Last edited by not.in.MY.town; 01-18-2019, 08:59 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by threeofnine View Post

                    Thanks for the reply, I admit I do not know how this stuff works. If someone blows 0.00 would a drug test not be administered?
                    I agree with the others.

                    One of the last DUI arrests I made, I decided not to get any drug tests. The guy blew 0.00 on the preliminary road side test but failed the field sobriety test. So I used the SFST, the damage to the vehicle and his prescribed medication, he took and charged him with "DUI less safe."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In IL we have implied consent; because you have a driver's license, you've consented to give breath, blood, and urine if you're suspected of being DUI. I can't force someone to give those to me without a warrant, but if a person refuses any chemical test I ask for, their driver's license is suspended for 1 year (first offense) or 3 years (2+ offenses). If a person goes to the hospital, we'll subpoena the blood draw.

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                      • #12
                        If someone tells me they have a medical issue, I take that into consideration. I also remind them the tests are voluntary, and if at any point they feel they cannot complete a test due to a medical issue, we can stop and I will not penalize them for it. The tests are not pass/fail. They are an accumulation of observations to determine if a person is safe to operate a motor vehicle. If they are under arrest for DUI and alcohol is suspected, they will be asked to provide a breath sample. At this point there is already probable cause to believe they are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. A 0.000 BAC after showing enough signs of impairment to warrant an arrest likely means there are drugs on board, and as others have said, a DRE is a good option. For all of my DUI arrests where drugs are suspected or a person refuses to provide a breath sample, I have obtained a search warrant to obtain a blood sample. The results are not instantaneous though, and sometimes it can take months to get the results back, which means the court proceedings are delayed. I have not yet had one come back with no impairing substances detected, but it could happen. The lab doesn't test for every drug out there, and depending on the drug and metabolism, it could be out of their system by the time you get the warrant signed and get the blood. That is why a DRE evaluation is important.
                        "Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by threeofnine View Post
                          Hello, first time poster and big supporter of Law Enforcement. Quick questions out of curiosity. I love to watch Live PD on A&E and I notice when a suspected drunk driver is requested to preform a field sobriety test they are usually asked beforehand if they have any medical problems that would prevent them from preforming the tests. Ive never seen anyone say yes. My question is what happens if they say they do have a medical issue that will effect their performance?
                          That will determine which tests will be utilized and we will take into consideration the problem compared to the test.

                          Originally posted by threeofnine View Post
                          Last question, if a person fails the FST, due to anxiety or other reasons, and then later blows 0.00 and has a clean blood test will be they immediately let go or does it still have to go through the courts?
                          First up, people don't "fail" field sobriety. They either demonstrate a certain number of indicators of impairment or they don't. That's all there is to that. Anxiety *might* (doubtful) get you one or two clues throughout, but not enough to be considered impaired.

                          It takes 3-4 weeks for us to get an alcohol blood test back from the lab. It takes us 6-9 months to get a drug blood test back. The Court process begins within 48 hours of arrest. As mentioned, we rely on a number of factors to guide us until the lab results get back, such as the DRE mentioned above. Having said that, we get impaired driving convictions constantly without any lab tests whatsoever. The lab test is just the last nail in the coffin.

                          Originally posted by kontemplerande
                          Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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                          • #14
                            As a side note on the end of what the above poster said; tests are icing on the cake. Most DUI trials get pled out to Reckless Driving, especially on first offenses. I've yet to go to trial on one, they've all been pled out. Having blood and urine can be nice but it's just as convincing to a jury if you're in video talking about smoking weed earlier and I can show how messed up said person was driving on the road.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's an answer to a question that you didn't ask but might be curious about..
                              Q: Do cops ever get it wrong?
                              A: Yes.

                              Even under lab conditions, SFSTs aren't 100%. Also, in rare instances, someone may not tell you about a serious medical condition that can affect their behavior/performance.
                              I once arrested a guy who drove into a building at a very low speed. He told me he had no medical conditions. His shirt was covered with vomit. His speech was slurred, and he was disoriented. He showed numerous clues during SFSTs.
                              One of the things we're all trained to consider is low blood sugar due to diabetes. I summoned EMS, and his blood sugar was normal. He was rejected by the jail nurse as "too drunk". I took him to the hospital where it was discovered that he had late stage liver disease... like really late stage liver disease (he died in that hospital). The way it was explained to me was that without a functioning liver to filter out toxins, naturally occurring toxins like ammonia get into the brain and it can appear that he is drunk. His blood test showed that there was no alcohol or other common drugs on board. Anyway, I was satisfied with the medical explanation, and I "let him go".

                              Moral of the story is that's why you have the right to a trial where you can present evidence in your defense.

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