Field Sobriety Tests as a Method of Determining a Driver’s Level of Intoxication in Broward

Field sobriety tests, also known as roadside tests, are supposed to be standardized tests that allow a law enforcement officer to gauge the relative sobriety or level of intoxication of a driver, says Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore, who has studied the effectiveness of such police tactics for many years during his criminal defense career. Police officers often administer the tests instead of or in addition to breath or blood alcohol tests in order to make a DUI arrest. The field sobriety tests are sometimes, but certainly not always, video-recorded for use before a jury or a judge in a DUI trial.
When looking at these field sobriety tests as a lay person, Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney William Moore acknowledges that they may seem simple for a driver who is sober to perform or easy to use as an investigative tool for a police officer. The problem is how very subjective the tests are, even for a highly seasoned law enforcement official.
For example, Broward DUI attorney William Moore says that police may see what they want or expect to see – even if it is unconscious. The scenario is not difficult to imagine: a police officer (probably a state trooper) is patrolling the Florida Turnpike at 2:00 in the morning. He spots a red car going about 65 miles per hour, one of the only cars still on the road. The red car swerves to the left, crossing the dotted line, entering the leftmost lane with its front tire. The car jerks back into the center lane.
The police officer turns on her sirens and speeds off to apprehend to the red car. The red car stops and the officer proceeds to conduct a traffic stop.
Officer: Have you been drinking tonight, ma’am?
Driver: No. Well, not really. I had some wine with dinner but that was awhile ago.
The officer observes that the driver seems nervous and asks her to step out of the vehicle. She is suspicious that there is a DUI in progress. She asks the driver to perform several tests, such as standing on one foot and counting backwards from thirty. The woman does so, but is slightly wobbly. It’s a close call, but the officer places her under arrest for driving under the influence.
In reality, the woman may have swerved when looking down to change the radio station. Late at night, she may also have been sleepy. Two glasses of wine at dinnertime is unlikely to leave a driver impaired many hours later. In this case, a police officer would use the field sobriety tests to evaluate the driver’s impairment, but there is no way to produce truly accurate results.
This scenario plays out all the time. Unfortunately, the diagnostic tool is far from perfect, and law enforcement officers tend to grossly overestimate a driver’s intoxication. In blind studies, in fact, experienced police officers often determined that “suspects” who were not under the influence of alcohol or any other substance were too impaired to drive.

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Drug Treatment Programs in Broward County

drug crimes defense attorney William R. Moore

Broward criminal lawyer William Moore knows that drug problems are a problem in Florida. Every day, people in Coconut Creek, Fort Lauderdale, and throughout the south Florida metropolitan area are arrested for possession, trafficking, and selling controlled substances. Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Moore notes that these substances include prescription drugs like Xanax and pain medications as well as more traditional illegal drugs like marijuana, powder and crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Police investigate the crimes and the local State Attorney’s Office prosecutes the crime.

Although certain types of controlled substance offenses (drug crimes) are most effectively handled by the criminal justice system, others are not. Broward criminal attorney Moore believes that trafficking in very large quantities of drugs, particularly when the shipments cross borders internationally, is best handled by the federal or state criminal court systems. However, most people arrested for drug crimes are small-time dealers or, even more frequently, simple drug users. The Florida criminal justice system spends tremendous amounts of money every year investigating, prosecuting, and imprisoning drug offenders.

Some counties in Florida currently use drug courts. Drug courts operate on the theory that drug rehabilitation is the ultimate goal: if a drug abuser can kick the habit, so to say, he is far less likely to re-offend and burden the courts and correctional facilities in the future. Recent studies show that drug treatment is more effective at preventing recidivism and also less costly for the state. Another important argument to consider is the issue of punishment: as a basic social matter, is it more important to treat people who suffer from drug addiction or to punish them for trying the substances they later became dependent upon?

Other factors to consider include the availability of outpatient drug therapy programs. While some drug addicts may require inpatient treatment, says Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer Moore, many are likely to be treated on an outpatient basis and in such a way that they can maintain important bonds with family, friends, and partners. The ongoing day-to-day contact can serve as an important network of support during an especially difficult time – and the support is not available to drug offenders who spend time in prison.

Drug treatment in prison is a compromise between the competing philosophies, but some studies show that the programs are less effective than traditional drug treatment. One possible reason is that the inmates are demoralized.

A second issue is that drug treatment within prison takes places in an unrealistic environment: drugs, although not wholly absent from prisons, are strictly not allowed. When the inmate has served his time, he may not be able to apply what he learned in treatment to his life outside of prison, especially during the adjustment following his release. A drug addict who successfully completes outpatient treatment does so while learning to battle his old habits – which likely include making contact with his old dealer.

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