Here’s a story from WFAA about problems with the DPD field sobriety testing program. Apparently too many officers were failing, and it’s taken on a racial angle of sorts.
Here’s what you to know.
1. Standard Field Sobriety Tests are junk science and you don’t have to believe in them. These tests were invented by NHTSA in 70’s as a way to increase DWI convictions. They have never been peer reviewed or been subject to a study with a control group. Really, you have to have complete faith in the federal government to even start to believe that the only reason someone could have trouble balancing on the side of a road under the threat of arrest, is because they are drunk.
2. The training is really short and it only takes a 24 hour class to become “certified” in SFSTs. For comparison, it takes 600 hours of training to become a certified nail technician in Texas, but only 24 hours to become an SFST certified DWI arrest machine. This is pretty amazing considering that after one 24 hour class, of which you spend maybe a few hours on the HGN, you will able to testify that you can diagnose one type of nystagmus to the exclusion of the other 40 or so, and jurors will believe you. Fun fact- I took the class and am certified in SFSTs.
3. The tests and the end of the SFST class are not hard. Really, they are a little harder than the “Which Walking Dead Character Are You” quiz on facebook, but after 24 hours of hearing about the tests and other NHTSA propaganda you should be able to regurgitate the nonsense back to the instructors fairly well.
4. Get this, we used to have standards for officers to call themselves SFST “certified”. They were pretty pathetic, basically take an 8 hour refresher course every two years. But guess what? So many officers were failing to keep with this requirement that the State scrapped it. That’s right, they eliminated all requirements for SFST certification from the Texas Administrative Code because officers kept misleading the jury about being “certified” when they weren’t. So now all DWI officers take the stand and talk about being SFST certified, even though we eliminated the SFST certification program because so many DWI officers were not in compliance.