Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests

Santa Ana DUI Lawyer Offering Aggressive Defense

While many people might assume that field sobriety tests are clear-cut ways of determining whether a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol, the reality is that these tests are really not as reliable as they seem. These tests are highly subjective—the results are based on an individual law enforcement officer's visual observations of how balanced or coordinated a person appears to be. While the officers have certain guidelines they need to follow, it is impossible to know whether every officer perceives the signs of impairment in the same way. Furthermore, there are various factors that making a person appear to be intoxicated when he or she actually is not. Were you arrested for alleged DUI after failing a field sobriety test? If you were, you can bring your case to Thomas Tears, Attorney at Law for a Santa Ana DUI attorney who can zealously challenge the validity of your test results.

The Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

There are three different types of standardized field sobriety tests that officers administer. These include the following, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Walk and Turn—requires walking toe-to-heel and a straight line for a certain number of steps
  • One Leg Stand—requires balancing on one leg while counting aloud for a certain period of time
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)—requires the officer to take a small object and moving it in a horizontal line in front of the test taker; requires the test taker to keep his or her gaze on the object

In these tests, the law enforcement officer is supposed to be checking for loss of balance or coordination, as well as the inability of the test taker to follow directions while carrying out the physical actions (testing the person's divided attention). In the HGN test, the officer looks for excessive jerking in the eye or the inability of the driver to smoothly follow the object smoothly with his or her eyes. There are also other non-standardized tests that officers might use to determine whether a person is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Drivers should be aware that they can decline to submit to field sobriety testing without being penalized, though this does not necessarily prevent a DWI arrest from occurring.

Challenging Your Test Results

There are many factors that need to be explored when determining the validity of field sobriety test results. Was the test administered in a reasonable location with even terrain and proper lighting? Did the officer properly instruct the driver of the steps of the test? Furthermore, simple factors such as medical conditions or nervousness could cause a person to perform poorly on these types of tests. All of these factors must be considered.

Do not hesitate to bring your case to Thomas Tears, Attorney at Law so our attorney can help you take action to protect your rights. Contact us today!