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What are the Field Sobriety Tests Used in DUI Cases?

In Los Angeles County and around the state, standardized field sobriety tests, or SFSTs, are used to help determine a driver’s intoxication level. SFSTs generally consist of three separate tests. Popular belief is that these tests are always a clear indication a driver was under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol, or DUI. They aren’t! Rather these field sobriety tests are intended to gather evidence to show impairment and establish probable cause to arrest a driver.

Different jurisdictions use different field sobriety tests during DUI traffic stops and arrests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, regulates three tests which are used as SFSTs. The tests are:

Walk and Turn

A police officer conducting a walk and turn test will ask the driver to listen to instructions before completing them. The test is used to study the driver’s physical movements. In theory, the movements can’t be easily performed by drivers impaired by drugs and/ or alcohol. The test is designed to divide a driver’s attention between physical and mental tasks. An officer observes the driver walk heel-to-toe along a straight line while listening to instructions.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test refers to the involuntary movement of the eyes. This movement naturally occurs when the eye looks to one side. With an individual who is sober, the nystagmus happens when the eyes are rotating at a high peripheral angles. In an impaired individual, the nystagmus becomes exaggerated. The rotating angles lessen.

One Leg Stand

This is another divided attention test. Unlike the other test it is done on one leg. An officer instructs the driver on how to stand on one foot with the other foot roughly six inches above the ground. The driver then must count out loud until he or she is told to place the foot back on the ground.

Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate and Reliable?

Law enforcement officers take the test results into account when determining whether they have probable cause to make a DUI arrest. There is one major point to make about field sobriety tests - - they are not a definitive indication that a driver is under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol.

Many factors can cause a driver to fail one or more of the field sobriety tests. These factors include:

  • Slippery roads
  • Adverse weather
  • Unsuitable attire including type of shoes
  • Medical conditions

In fact, there are a lot of other factors that can make a person fail field sobriety tests. To learn more about these tests, ask an experienced DUI attorney.

The Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin is Ready to Fight for You

Have you been arrested for DUI because of your performance on standardize field sobriety tests? It’s essential you retain an experienced DUI attorney ask quickly as possible to represent you. You don’t want to lose valuable time or evidence.

Also, you want your DUI attorney to start working on a favorable resolution to your DUI charge. Jonathan Franklin is the DUI attorney ready to fight for you. He worked as a prosecutor before becoming a defense attorney. Thus, he knows how prosecutors think when trying get a DUI conviction. He also know how to fight against DUI charges where SFSTs are the strongest evidence the state has to present.

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin today.

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Contact Information

Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney
6777 Hollywood Blvd Ste 508
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-464-6700