DUI Roadside Exercises
What are DUI roadsides?

The first drunk driving arrest recorded was in London in 1897. A taxi driver named George Smith crashed his taxi cab into a building and was found to be intoxicated. Called "driving under the influence" (DUI) or "driving while intoxicated" (DWI) in most states, there are about 1 million drivers arrested for DUI/DWI in the U.S. each year.    

Since Colorado DUI laws and every state allows driving after drinking, at least for adults, police officers cannot just arrest any driver they stop who has alcohol odor on their breath. Officers have to engage in some level of investigation to decide which drinking drivers they think may have become impaired from the drinking. For several decades, officers across the country used many different random tasks in order to form opinions about who was ok to drive and who was going to be arrested for DUI. None of it was scientific, and many of the tasks used by officers were unfair to drivers. Some sobriety tasks were ridiculous.      

This DUI spoof from Reno 911 shows the dangers of officers making up their own sobriety tests.
1897 Stanley Steamer
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
NHTSA.webp

In the mid 1970s NHTSA initiated efforts to improve the use of DUI roadside tests in the country and make them more standardized (consistent) and more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. What is important for Colorado DUI defense lawyers to learn from this first DUI study published by NHTSA, is that police roadsides came from POLICE. The field sobriety tests were not designed by doctors nor by toxicologists nor by any other scientist- they came from 1960s and 70s cops. Prior to the 1980s, it was not common for police officers to have any education beyond high school or even just a GED. Today's roadside sobriety tests used in Colorado criminal courts came from these minimally educated officers of 45-50 years ago.   

Jim Medley's Advanced Training in DUI Sobriety Tests

Jim Medley was first trained in police DUI roadside tests as a police officer in 1993. His initial training was provided by the Texas A&M University Criminal Justice Academy. For almost 30 years now, Jim has studied, used, and evaluated the NHTSA curriculum for police DUI arrest procedures. As a naive police officer, he believed the roadside exercises were scientific, but decades of experience and advanced education in forensic standards have empowered him to stand up against this junk science in court for over 20 years as a nationally recognized DUI defense attorney. 

FAKE SCIENCE ALERT!

The DUI eye test they call "HGN" can be the most dangerous testimony at a DUI trial. It's the one test that jurors can't see for themselves on video, and officers can testify they saw it when they really didn't. Even worse, Colorado DUI law allows officers to say this test proves "impairment," when the scientific studies do not justify that statement. The best DUI lawyers in Colorado understand the science behind roadside tests.

DUI HGN cop