Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests
If you have recently been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, you were probably asked to take a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are used by police officers
to determine whether there is probable cause for a drunk-driving arrest.
Field sobriety tests are far from scientific. The tests are graded subjectively by a police officer who already believed you were intoxicated when he or she first pulled you over. It is important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to challenge the field sobriety tests that led to your drunk-driving charge.
There are three standardized field sobriety tests that are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
For the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer will ask you to follow a stimulus, such as a penlight
, with your eyes without moving your head. During the test, the officer is looking for the early onset of nystagmus, or jerking of the eyes. Alcohol consumption is linked to nystagmus; however, there are many medical and vision conditions that may also cause nystagmus. Since it is unlikely that the officer is a trained ophthalmologist, he or she may be unable to tell if nystagmus is induced by alcohol or a medical condition.
The walk-and-turn test
and one-leg stand test are known as divided attention tests. This means that they test both your physical and cognitive abilities. You must first listen to the officer’s instructions before performing the physical component of the test. Those who are over the age of 65, more than 50 pounds overweight, or who have a physical disability should not be asked to perform these tests.
These tests should be administered on a dry, level surface in a well-lit area. If the test is administered at night on a slippery surface, the results of the test may be challenged.
One of the most common problems with the field sobriety tests is untrained officers
. Officers who have not been trained on how to correctly administer and interpret field sobriety tests can give undeserving suspects a failing grade. If your test results were incorrect because the officer was inexperienced or untrained, your drunk-driving charges may be dismissed.
Contact an experienced DUI attorney today to learn how to challenge the field sobriety tests.
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