Contesting Field Sobriety Test Results in Chicago DUI Cases

Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C.

In the realm of DUI defense in Chicago, contesting the results of field sobriety tests is a crucial aspect of the legal process. These tests, commonly used by law enforcement to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest, are not infallible. Understanding how to effectively challenge the results can significantly impact the outcome of a DUI case. This comprehensive guide explores the nuances of field sobriety tests, the legal framework governing their use, and strategies for contesting their results in Chicago.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a series of physical and cognitive exercises that police use to assess a suspect’s level of impairment. The most common standardized tests used in Illinois include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg Stand tests. While these tests are endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they are not without their flaws.

Under Illinois law, particularly noted in the Illinois Compiled Statutes (625 ILCS 5/11-501), a DUI charge can be substantiated by demonstrating that the driver was impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Field sobriety tests are routinely employed to establish this impairment. However, the results are highly subjective and can be influenced by a variety of factors unrelated to alcohol consumption.

Potential Fines and Jail Time for DUI in Illinois

The consequences of a DUI conviction in Illinois are severe. First-time offenders can face penalties including up to one year in jail, fines up to $2,500, and a suspension of driving privileges for up to a year. For those with previous DUI convictions, the penalties escalate, potentially leading to longer jail terms, higher fines, and longer suspension periods, or even permanent revocation of driving privileges.

The Arrest Process

Detention and Field Sobriety Testing

An individual suspected of DUI in Chicago is typically asked to perform field sobriety tests during a traffic stop if a police officer observes signs of impairment. These signs might include the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, or erratic driving behavior. Failure in these tests often leads to arrest.

Processing and Chemical Testing

After arrest, suspects undergo further processing, which includes chemical testing to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). Refusal to undergo chemical testing can lead to automatic suspension of driving privileges under Illinois’ implied consent law.

Navigating the Criminal Case Process

Following an arrest for DUI, the accused will make an initial court appearance, where charges are formally read, and bail conditions are set. This hearing also sets the stage for the legal battle ahead.

During the discovery phase, the defense can obtain all evidence that the prosecution plans to use, including details about how field sobriety tests were administered. Pre-trial motions might include motions to suppress evidence, particularly if there were issues with how the FSTs were conducted.

Contesting Field Sobriety Test Results

Challenging Test Conditions

One effective strategy is to challenge the conditions under which the tests were administered. Factors such as uneven pavement, poor lighting, or adverse weather can all unfairly influence a suspect’s performance on field sobriety tests.

Questioning Officer Training and Test Administration

The defense can question whether the arresting officer was properly trained to administer FSTs and whether the tests were conducted in strict accordance with NHTSA guidelines. Any deviation from standard procedures can be grounds to challenge the test results.

Highlighting Medical Conditions

Medical conditions or injuries that affect balance or cognitive function can also impact FST performance. Providing medical documentation that explains such conditions can help invalidate the reliability of FST results.

The Role of a Defense Attorney

An experienced DUI defense attorney is crucial in navigating the complexities of a DUI case. A knowledgeable lawyer can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, particularly regarding how field sobriety tests were conducted and interpreted. By crafting a compelling defense and leveraging all available evidence, a defense attorney can significantly enhance the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

If you are facing DUI charges in Chicago and believe that the field sobriety test results do not accurately represent your state of sobriety, it is essential to act swiftly and seek competent legal representation. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg are dedicated to defending the rights of individuals accused of DUI, with a deep understanding of both the science behind field sobriety testing and the strategies for contesting erroneous results.

Call Attorney Freidberg For Your Free Consultation

If you or someone you know is facing any DUI criminal charges in Chicago, immediate action is necessary. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg are here to help. With extensive experience in criminal defense and a proven track record of success, we are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for our clients. We offer free consultations 24/7, so do not hesitate to call us at (312) 560-7100 or toll-free at (800) 803-1442. We serve clients throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Will County, and Lake County. Let us stand by your side and fight for your rights and freedom.

Contact Us

  1. 1 Available 24/7
  2. 2 Free Consultation
  3. 3 Effective and Persuasive Defense
Fill out the contact form or call us at (312) 560-7100 or (800) 803-1442 to schedule your free consultation.

Leave Us a Message