Police Officer as Expert at DMV Hearing

Jamison Koehler DUI and Driving Offenses, Evidence, Trial Advocacy

Q:  You are certified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests?

A:  Yes.

Q:  So you are familiar with the science behind the standardized field sobriety tests?

A:  Yes.

Q:  And you are aware that the tests have never been peer-reviewed?

A:  Um.  I was not aware –

HEARING EXAMINER:  What is the relevance of this?

A:  That’s –

HEARING EXAMINER:  — No, no, no.   Counselor.  What’s the relevance of this for an administrative hearing?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  The accuracy of those tests is completely relevant to this hearing.

HEARING EXAMINER:  The accuracy of what tests?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  The standardized field sobriety tests.  You want to know if my client was impaired that night.  The tests are designed to measure that.  And yet the accuracy of those tests has never been peer-reviewed.  That is relevant.  That is an issue that –

HEARING EXAMINER:  –But that is not an issue that this tribunal can address.  This is an administrative hearing as to whether her D.C. license will be revoked.  Our determination is whether your client was impaired at the time she was operating a motor vehicle.  Now if you say the tests are faulty –

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Yes.  That’s exactly what I am saying.

HEARING EXAMINER:  I will tell you right now, I do not, unless you have an expert here to testify as it relates to the field sobriety tests, unless you can provide that testimony through an expert —

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  — I have an expert right here –

HEARING EXAMINER:  — I cannot allow that line of questioning.

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Let me try –

HEARING EXAMINER:  Because you are trying to get the officer to say that the tests are not peer-reviewed.  What does that mean? What does that mean to the officer?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  I don’t care what it means to the officer.  What matters is what it means to you.

HEARING EXAMINER:  Right.  And so the officer says it wasn’t peer-reviewed, how do you refute that if you don’t have an expert?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  I have an expert.  Right here.  The officer is an expert.  He has been certified multiple times in the administration of the test.  Otherwise he wouldn’t be qualified to testify.

HEARING EXAMINER:  No, no.  Where is your expert?  He is the government’s expert.

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  And now he is my expert.

HEARING EXAMINER:  Counselor.  Move on.

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Madam Examiner –

HEARING EXAMINER:  Counselor.  I said move on.