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§ 904.01, Relevance – Field Sobriety Test

State v. Richard B. Wilkens, 2005 WI App 36
For Wilkens: Waring R. Fincke

Issue/Holding: Field sobriety tests (alphabet and finger-to-nose tests; and heel-to-toe walk) “are observational tools, not litmus tests that scientifically correlate certain types or numbers of ‘clues’ to various blood alcohol concentrations,” ¶17. Thus, the officer’s observations of Wilkens’ performance isn’t treated “any differently from his other subjective observations of Wilkens, i.e., his red and glassy eyes, slurred speech, his speeding, and the smell of alcohol on his person,” ¶19. (Court reserves treatment of HGN test.) And, factfinders don’t in any event need expert testimony on drunkenness “any more than they require an explanation of the theory of gravity in a suit where a plaintiff claims to have been injured by a fallen object,” ¶21.

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