What You Need to Know About Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
During the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created several tests for law enforcement to use in determining if an individual is intoxicated. These tests are referred to as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, and they are still used today.
Many people who are stopped for DWI field sobriety testing are often left uncertain about how to proceed. Unfortunately, failing a DWI field sobriety test can result in serious consequences. This causes many people to feel nervous about performing well on the tests, and law enforcement can use any subsequent nerve-induced, unusual behavior against a person. Fortunately, if you are subject to field sobriety testing, there are often several types of defenses that you can raise in response.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Field Sobriety Test
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is referred to as the most reliable field sobriety test. The nystagmus involves the involuntary jerking of a person’s eye, which can increase as a result of alcohol in a person’s blood. To take this test, the person removes any glasses, stands with his or her feet together, and follows an object held by an officer with his or her eyes. The officer then looks for signs of intoxication in that person’s eyes.
Walk and Turn DWI Field Sobriety Test
This test involves a person walking a straight line for a certain number of steps. Some of the signs that suggest a person is intoxicated include starting too soon, stepping off of the line, using arms for balance, and taking an incorrect number of steps.
One Leg Stand DWI Field Sobriety Test
This field sobriety test involves standing on one leg with the other leg lifted off of the ground. During the test, law enforcement looks for signs of swaying while balancing, using a person’s arms for balance, hopping, or putting one’s foot down.
Field Sobriety Tests are Not Reliable
Standardized field sobriety tests can also be challenged on the grounds that they are not accurate in determining a person’s blood alcohol content. DUI Defense attorneys are sometimes able to challenge Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus tests on the basis that the law enforcement conducting the test was not adequately trained to perform the test. Other defenses to the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test include that the test is often unreliable. It has been established that younger individuals are able to smoothly track a stimulus while older individuals experience more eye jerking, regardless of intoxication level.
Walk and turn tests are also commonly challenged. Some law enforcement officers are not aware that the test must be conducted on a straight line and should involve a reasonably dry, hard, and non-slippery surface.
If a person engaged in a DUI stop has a disability, a defense attorney can sometimes challenge the results of standardized field sobriety tests, as well.
Procedural Mistakes by Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers have a great number of requirements that they must meet while performing a blood alcohol content test. In many cases, they are focused on a variety of responsibilities, including ensuring the safety of all participants. If the officer performs a field sobriety test that violates your rights, this can often serve as the basis for a strong DWI defense.
Not all motor vehicle drivers who are subject to field sobriety tests speak the same language as law enforcement officers. There are often substantial challenges that arise when certain police instructions become lost in translation. If law enforcement fails to offer a translator or the translator is not sufficient, you likely have the grounds on which to base a strong defense.
Improper Testing Conditions
The conditions of how and where a field sobriety test is conducted are important. If any of these conditions interfered with your field sobriety test, you will likely be able to create a defense in response to these matters.
Speak With an Experienced Long Island DUI Lawyer
Our Long Island DUI attorneys have helped a number of drivers facing DWI charges create strong defenses, even after they were subjected to field sobriety tests. It is always in your best interest to quickly obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney if you have been arrested for DWI. Contact the DWI defense attorneys of 888-DUI-Lawyer today to schedule an initial free consultation.