Cleveland Indian’s outfielder, Shin-Soo Choo, was arrested and charged with a DUI this past Monday. When police pulled him over, they first appeared to give him directions and let him go. After following him, they saw that he was weaving and drifting and pulled him over on suspicion of DUI. He was told to exit the vehicle, given a field sobriety test, and arrested. The camera mounted on the police car (dash cam) captured this field sobriety test. These tests do not appear to have been administered properly. If this arrest had occurred in Washington, DC, a DUI defense attorney would have a lot to challenge during a motion to suppress evidence.
Let’s first look at the Walk and Turn (WAT) Test. The WAT is one of three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To do the test properly, the officer must clearly demonstrate the test by taking three steps, performing the turn, and taking three more steps. The police officer must clearly state not to begin the test until instructed to do so. In this video, we can clearly see that the officer did not properly demonstrate or instruct the test. How can even a sober person be expected not to fail this sobriety test if they were never told what to do?
This is one of the major problems with any of these field sobriety tests—they are difficult to understand and even more difficult to perform even while completely sober. They are virtually impossible to do correctly if the police officer does not administer the test properly. It is this poor administration that a Washington, DC DWI lawyer could use during cross-examination of the arresting officer.