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Southfield, Mich. — March 18, 2015 — Following a Jan. 2015 amendment to Bill 1949 PA 300 entitled “Michigan vehicle code” that left what some deemed a lack of clarity in Michigan law regarding field sobriety tests being admissible in court, the Michigan legislature is rewriting the language to again allow the tests to be used. Neil Rockind, founder of Southfield-based criminal defense law firm, Rockind Law, says the proposed wording removes the mention of the tests altogether which, ironically, would make them admissible again.
“My criminal defense colleagues and I were thrilled when the Michigan legislature made field sobriety tests (roadside gymnastics), inadmissible in court,” Rockind said. “However, the opposition from law enforcement on the subject caused an uproar and the language is being rewritten to omit any mention of field sobriety tests, allowing the results to be admissible in court again. I strongly urge legislators not to amend the wording adopted in January.”
The problem, according to Rockind, is field sobriety tests are subjective and not scientific.
“Field sobriety tests fall in the junk science category in my book and are only 77% accurate, meaning approximately one in four tests performed finds a sober person intoxicated – and arrested,” Rockind said. “The tests are extremely subjective; a law enforcement official can claim an individual didn’t follow his or her directions exactly. The reality is many sober people cannot pass a field sobriety test due to physical disabilities, prior surgeries or eye or neurological problems.”
Rockind says the field sobriety tests should remain excluded from the courtroom or, at the very least, juries should be instructed they are not scientific.
“Our legislators should not bow to pressure from law enforcement officials who believe a handy tool for nabbing drunk drivers has been taken away from them,” Rockind said. “We need impartial, scientific evidence when determining one’s sobriety or intoxication.”
About Rockind Law
Rockind Law is a Southfield, Michigan-based criminal defense law firm aggressively pursuing justice for individuals facing criminal charges, including white collar crime, drunk driving, narcotics and assault. To find out more about the firm’s services and resources, visit http://www.rockindlaw.com/.
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