Police make up their own versions of the SFSTS

Gary S Bernstein

Twice in the last month in Towson District Court in Baltimore County I have had  police officers tell me that their NHTSA Field Sobriety Test Manual doesn’t say what mine says.  You think maybe they send one to the police and put extra requirements in the ones they sell to defense attorneys?  You can show it to them in black and white and they claim not in the one they received in training.  I told one of them I have every manual ever published and it’s in all of them.  No answer.  Well today the trooper said instead of having the defendant keep her foot with 4 inch stiletto heels parallel to the ground as per the manual, he had her point the foot up at a 45 degree angle so he could see better.  Judge’s reaction was basically, “Huh?”  The reason she wore heels? It was her choice.  Since she never did these exercises before how would she know that it would be better to remove them?  No answer for that either.  AND she did the test perfectly except she swayed while balancing on this smaller than an M&M sized heel.  Judge found her Not Guilty at the end of the State’s case.  Now the trooper was not venal and he thought he was being fair by modifying the test, but he cannot do that and expect the judge to figure out if the client “passed.”