When a police officer suspects a driver of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will pull the vehicle over and ask the driver to participate in a field sobriety test. DUI field sobriety tests are incredibly subjective, and it is important to know what to expect if you agree to participate in a field sobriety test while on the road. At the Johnson Law Firm, our experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the weaknesses in DUI field sobriety tests and can provide top-tier legal representation for your case. To learn more, call or contact our office today.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Police officers can use many different types of tests during a DUI traffic stop, such as reciting the alphabet backwards. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advocates for the use of the “standardized” field sobriety test, which includes three different parts:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) tests the involuntary jerking of the eye. This movement happens naturally, but a person under the influence may have eye jerking that starts at a lesser angle than sober drivers. An officer will ask the driver to watch an object as they move it from left to right, checking for involuntary movement.
- Walk-and-Turn Test: The walk-and-turn test involves the driver taking nine heel to toe steps along a line, turning, and taking nine heel to toe steps back. Signs of impairment can include losing balance, forgetting the number of steps, veering off the line, and failing to turn appropriately.
- One-Leg Stand Test: The one-leg stand test is a divided attention test, where the driver is asked to raise one foot off the ground and count to an unspecified number until the officer allows the person to stop. The officer is looking for the driver to put their foot down, lose balance, sway, or hop on the standing foot.
Other Reasons for Failing a Field Sobriety Test
Field sobriety tests are inherently biased because the police officer pulling over the vehicle already suspects the driver of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, there are many other reasons why a driver may not pass a field sobriety test that has nothing to do with them being under the influence while behind the wheel. Weather conditions and road conditions can play significant factors in a person’s ability to complete a field sobriety test. The shoes a person is wearing, legal medications they may be on, and existing medical conditions can all impact someone’s ability to complete a field sobriety test successfully. To learn more about the flaws of field sobriety tests and for answers to all your legal questions, call our office now.
Call or Contact Us Today
Have you or someone you know been charged with a DUI after failing a field sobriety test? If so, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm in the St. Louis area are here to help. Call or contact the office today to schedule a consultation of your case.