Field Sobriety Exercises
These exercises are VOLUNTARY and not mandatory. By performing these exercises you are giving the law enforcement officer the ability to gather evidence against you based solely on his opinion. Let me say that again, DUI is one of the only arrestable offenses where an officer’s opinion is factored in heavily.
Field Sobriety Testing has been a very controversial issue in the legal world over the past few years. Some people doubt the reliability of subjective field sobriety tests in concluding a drivers level of impairment or intoxication and feel that they should not be used to implicate drivers of a DUI . field sobriety tests are used by virtually all law enforcement officers as a basis to determine their probable cause to make a DUI arrest or not. During these field exercises or test, law enforcement officers will look out for certain behavior or physical actions which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) indicates may be indicia of intoxication.
There are three main, separate standardized field sobriety tests that are routinely used as evidence of driving under the influence. There are countless other types of field sobriety exercises or divided attention tests that law enforcement officers may use to establish probable cause for arrest, only these three can be used as evidence to incriminate a driver of DUI :
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN) – HGN is commonly recognized as and known as the “eye test,” or the “pen test”. This field sobriety test involves an officer moving a pen or another object in a horizontal manor while the DUI suspect watches it with their eyes. During this test, the officer is looking for something called Nystagmus, meaning the jerking or involuntary bouncing of the eye as it moves, indicating a neurological impairment that is exaggerated when alcohol is in the system. What the officers will not tell you is that there are over 38 different reasons why an individual can exhibit nystagmus other than the consumption of alcohol.
Walk & Turn Test – During this field sobriety exercise the subject is asked to walk nine steps touching heel to toe in a straight line. The officer will “score” this exercise by taking off points for things the subject does wrong, such as stepping off the line, failing to touch your toe to your heel, taking the wrong number of steps, making an improper turn, using your arms for balance, or stopping to balance yourself. Often officers will request you utilize an imaginary line for this exercise, thus making it even more subjective and difficult.
One Leg Stand – When this field sobriety test is administered, the subject is told to stand on one foot, raising their other foot about 6 inches off the ground while counting to 30 by “one-thousands”. Similar to the walk and turn test, certain actions will be notated against you and scored. These indicia are as follows: hopping or bouncing for balance, swaying, putting your foot down, looking at your foot, or using your arms to balance.
To find out more information about field sobriety exercises and to determine if the test you took could be used against you in court, contact a DUI Defense lawyer at Daniels & Hannan. We are proud members of the National College for DUI Defense. Visit us online at we-fight- DUI .org or www.dhlawfirm.org to schedule your free 30 minute DUI case evaluation.