Fighting a Seattle DUI Charge—Even if You Tested Over the Legal Limit and/or Failed the Field Sobriety Tests

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Jan 11

Lewis & Laws

Fighting a Seattle DUI Charge—Even if You Tested Over the Legal Limit and/or Failed the Field Sobriety Tests

by Lewis & Laws

Fighting a Seattle DUI Charge—Even if You Tested Over the Legal Limit 
and/or Failed the Field Sobriety Tests

Most people, believing it is hopeless, do not contest charges of a DUI based on failed field sobriety tests or a BAC over the legal limit.

However, it is almost always to your advantage to hire an experienced Seattle DUI attorney who will mount an aggressive defense on your behalf, challenging the results of your field sobriety or BAC tests and fighting for your rights and your future.

There are serious issues associated with both field sobriety tests and BAC tests and most people are unaware that they are not legally required to engage in field sobriety tests. 

How Field Sobriety Tests Are Used

Across the nation, officers use field sobriety tests as a part of their DUI investigations. These tests help the officers determine whether or not you are impaired.

The goal of these field sobriety tests is to gauge a person's agility and coordination, determining whether they can follow instructions and perform the tests simultaneously. It is assumed that these skills are necessary when operating a motor vehicle and that only a sober person will be able to pass the tests.  

Common Field Sobriety Tests

Test commonly used to determine impairment are the finger to nose test, the finger count test, reciting the alphabet forwards or even backwards, or the stand and balance test. At times, officers may combine two tests by having you stand in one place with your head tilted back, then have you bring your fingers to your nose, alternating arms.

While there are a variety field sobriety tests which officers can legally use, they typically use only three standardized tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand.

Even these three tests, which have received the NHTSA's stamp of approval, have been found to be as much as 30% inaccurate.

Field Sobriety Test Issues

Unfortunately, sometimes officers improperly score the tests, or fail to provide proper instructions for the tests. Further, those with medical issues, balance issues, illnesses, those who are overweight, those taking certain prescription drugs, and even those wearing certain types of shoes can be at a serious disadvantage when taking field sobriety tests. The terrain and the weather can also impact how well a person will perform roadside field sobriety tests.

Because of the wide margin of error—most people who are sober have trouble completing the tests the first time—a field sobriety test may wrongly be used to convict someone of a DUI.  

Problems with BAC Readings

Although you could end up with a suspended driver's license if you refuse a breathalyzer test, there are as many—if not more—issues associated with breathalyzer machine readings as there are with field sobriety tests.

Using a preset formula which estimates the level of alcohol in the blood, a breathalyzer machine measures the concentration of alcohol on your breath. An incorrect reading can be the result of differences in body composition, gender, size, deep vs. shallow breathing, breath temperature, certain illnesses, certain prescription drugs, the presence of non-alcoholic chemicals commonly used by carpenters, plumbers and others. Even the nearness of the breathalyzer machine to another radio wave-emitting device could skew the results. In short, machines make mistakes and those who operate and maintain the machines also make mistakes. 

As you can see, you should never simply give up and plead guilty—or fail to mount a defense—after being charged with DUI in Seattle. There are many, many issues in your DUI arrest which can be challenged—often successfully—preventing you from dealing with the fallout of a DUI conviction. 

Have You Been Arrested for DUI? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, or anywhere in the state of Washington, your future could be at stake. Contacting an experienced Seattle DUI defense lawyer is the key to fighting these serious charges. Let the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC fight aggressively for you and your future. Our lawyers have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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