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How Field Sobriety Tests Influence a DUI Investigation

Field Sobriety Tests, or FSTs, are used by police officers to identify drunk drivers. During a Driving Under the Influence investigation, the officer asks you to follow a set of instructions. These instructions are considered simple, at least from the officer's point of view. For instance, you may be asked to stand on one leg. The instructions may be simple for a sober individual to complete. However, when a person is under the influence of alcohol, FSTs are more difficult to complete without making a mistake.

The Types of Field Sobriety Tests

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
This test does not involve any coordination and balance. An officer will instruct you to look at an object as he or she moves it across your line of vision. The object is usually something like a pen to complete the test.

When sober, your eyes may be able to follow the object smoothly without turning your head or without having your eyes jerk. If you are under the influence, your eyes may have a hard time following the object smoothly. The latter leads the officer to believe that you were driving under the influence of alcohol.

The One Leg Stand Test
The officer will ask you to place your hands at your sides. You will then be instructed to raise one foot several inches from the ground. The last part of the instructions involve counting. You will have to count for 30 seconds. The counting instructions are a simple 1-2-3. It is done as follows: "one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three, etc."

The officer looks for one of the following:

  • Putting your foot on the ground.
  • Hopping on one leg to maintain balance.
  • Swaying while trying to keep your balance.
  • Using your arms to maintain balance.

Any of the above actions indicate, in the officer's opinion, that you are impaired and should be arrested for drunk driving.

Walk and Turn Test
This field sobriety test relies on balance and mental concentration. The officer will instruct you to place one foot in front of your other foot while walking in a straight line. When you place one foot in front of the other, it must be in a heel-to-toe movement or it doesn’t count as following instructions. After taking approximately nine steps, you are required to turn and walk in the other direction.

The officer is looking for the following actions:

  • Failing to follow the officer’s instructions.
  • Stepping away from the line you are supposed to be walking on.
  • Using your arms to keep balance.
  • Taking the wrong number of steps.

As above, one or more of the following mistakes, in the officer's eyes, may cause you to get arrested for and charged with DUI.

Should you have to defend yourself in Los Angeles Drunk Driving or Los Angeles Driving Under the Influence Charge, please call the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin to schedule your free consultation. Jonathan Franklin will discuss your options and develop a strategy in an effort to help you successfully resolve your DUI case.

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