Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why it's important to become qualified to administer the FSTs

Representing those accused of DUI is a very complicated process. The competent Seattle DUI Attorney needs to be familiar with constitutional issues, scientific theories, trial techniques, and much much more. However in addition to those basis skills, the experienced Seattle DUI Lawyer should also be qualified and certified to administer the standardized field sobriety testing. In other words they need to take the same course the law enforcement does, and learn the proper procedures for administering the standardized field sobriety testing.  Why is this so important you ask?    

In order to accomplish this the attorney should know how to administer the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test. These are the field sobriety tests that have been standardized by the national highway safety administration. In my opinion this is important for several reasons and are well worth their weight in gold compared to the nominal cost and time frame.  

1.  Verify whether the arresting officer administered correctly: In many Seattle DUI arrest cases the arresting officer administers the standardized field sobriety tests to the defendant. And in all of those cases the officer will say they are trained to administer these tests, and they were done according to their training. In order to verify whether these tests were done correctly or not, the Seattle DUI Attorney needs to know who to administer the tests themselves. If they know exactly how to do it, and they took the same course as the arresting officer they will be in a better position to identify any issues with the administration of the tests.         

2.  Help to separate yourself from all the other DUI Attorneys: In every jurisdiction there are attorneys that say they exclusively practice in the area of DUI Defense. And like in all professions there are good ones and there are bad ones.  But what separates the good ones from the pretenders is the level of commitment to this area of law in addition to their experience and knowledge. By taking the time and expense to take this NHTSA course, and learn exactly how to administer the field sobriety tests it will show a level of commitment and experience that will help you get clients.           

3.  Know the instructors and use them as experts: Many of the instructors of these NHTSA courses are former law enforcement. Sometimes in a DUI case it is necessary to hire an expert to counter what the Prosecutions witnesses are saying. Having an ex-law enforcement officer who is also an instructor for the field sobriety testing and really helpful, and comes across very credible in the eyes of a jury. By taking the course, and getting to know the instructors you will be in a better position to ask them to help you out on a case.

Taking this course is extremely important to the practice of DUI defense.  If an attorney doesn't take the time to do this then they don't care about their practice, and in turn don't care about you.  

Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI Attorney located in downtown Seattle.  If you have been arrested for a DUI contact our office for a free consultation to learn what your options are, and what to expect during the DUI charge.  

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