Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Posted by Moe Ahmad | Sep 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Police officers nationwide use the same standardized field sobriety tests to help to determine whether a driver is driving intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. This series of three tests was sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the purpose of analyzing a driver's motor functions, balance and memory capabilities, all of which can be dramatically impacted by alcohol consumption or drug use.

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) is a test where the officer will have the driver look straight ahead, then use only his or her eyes to follow the movement of an object the officer is moving from side to side in front of the driver's face. If the driver's eyes begin to spasm or twitch involuntarily when he or she is looking all the way to one side, it can be a condition known as nystagmus. Nystagmus is often exaggerated or more predominant when an individual is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • The Walk and Turn (WAT) test requires an individual to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. Once the individual has done that, he or she needs to turn around on one foot and go the other direction in exactly the same way. Beginning before the officer has finished giving you instructions, pausing to regain your balance, demonstrating an inability to maintain your balance while listening to instructions, stepping off the line, taking the wrong number of steps and failing to touch your feet heel-to-toe are all seen an indicators of intoxication.
  • The One-Leg Stand (OLS) is a test similar to the WAT test, as it is used to determine whether an individual listen and follow instructions at the same time. In this particular test, the driver is asked to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground, arms outstretched, and count out loud to a certain number. This test is usually performed for a period of 30 seconds. Losing your balance, losing count, forgetting the instructions, putting your foot down too soon or other action is likely to result in a test failure.

As results from these types of tests can lead to a DUI charge, you are advised to retain legal counsel immediately if you have been arrested. A skilled criminal defense lawyer from our firm is well qualified to help you challenge field sobriety test results, or results from breath and blood tests. At our firm you will work one-on-one with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Our lead lawyer is a proven trial lawyer, who also has experience working on the other side of the courtroom at a former prosecutor. We know the various strategies which can be used in your defense. If you need legal representation to fight DUI charges, we will work diligently to help you obtain a dismissal of all charges. Call Ahmad Law Firm now to get the representation you deserve.

About the Author

Moe Ahmad

Attorney Mohammad (Moe) Ahmad received his Juris Doctor Degree from Western Michigan University, Cooley Law School. As a skilled trial lawyer and former prosecutor of the...


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