The first test that I would like to discuss is saying the alphabet. This seems simple enough, but the validity of this test is questionable. It should be noted that contrary to urban legend and popular belief, saying the alphabet backwards is a not a field sobriety test. Normal people can’t do that sober. The police ask the suspected drunk driver to say the alphabet forwards. Some people will miss letters, or add letters as was the case with Ford, some will slur their speech, and some will sing the alphabet. If you do any of these while saying the alphabet, an officer will say you failed. The singing fail is actually quite tricky because many people learned to sing the alphabet in kindergarten or pre-school and have never studied the alphabet since. Saying “Y and Z” instead of “YZ” is considered a fail. NHTSA did not consider this one of the reliable tests, and it is not taught as a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). It can easily be challenged by a DWI defense attorney.
Counting from 100 to 80 is also a good example of a police officer invented test. It is not recognized by NHTSA and does not seem like it would hold up well in Washington, DC Traffic Court.
Finger counting is another test mentioned in the article. This is a test where a police officer will tell a DWI or DUI suspect to touch each finger to their thumb one at a time and count aloud. As in one, two, three, four, five. If you are wondering how you count to five when you only have four fingers and one thumb, you would be correct that this is not possible to do but that hasn’t stopped the police from trying. Your Washington, DC DUI lawyer should discuss with you how to fight this test in court. This test is also not a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST).
In the final part of this series, I will take a closer look at the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test.