Field Sobriety Tests Skilled & Experienced Attorneys

Field Sobriety Tests

Challenging Your DUI

Under California law, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol if you are found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or above. Law enforcement can test a driver to see if they are under the influence by administering a breath test. This device analyzes a breath sample and gives a reading showing how much alcohol is in the system.

Another way is by drawing a sample of blood and testing for the amount of alcohol found. Both of these tests provide a percentage and allow the authorities to determine whether they are over or under the legal limit. There is, however, a third way which does not look for a percentage, but rather tests to see if the individual is impaired. This is known as field sobriety testing.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are three main standardized field sobriety tests. The goal of these tests is to allow the peace officer administering them an accurate picture of whether the driver was operating their vehicle while impaired by alcohol. The first two of the three standardized field sobriety tests are divided into attention tests: the walk and turn test and the one-leg stand. Divided attention tests are tasks that would be easy to complete by a sober person, but intoxicated people are not able to successfully complete them.

Walk & Turn Test

In the walk and turn test, the driver is asked to take nine steps, heel-to-toe. Once they have walked nine steps in a straight line, they have to turn around and walk in the opposite direction. There are certain things that the peace officer will be on the lookout for throughout this exercise. They will look to see if they took the correct number of steps or whether they could not keep count. They will also look to see if they could not keep their balance or could not walk in a straight line. Research done regarding this test showed that it produced accurate results in 79% of the cases. This means that even if you failed a walk and turn test, you may still be innocent.

One-Leg Stand

The next divided attention test is the one-leg stand. In the one-leg stand, the driver is required to stand with one foot about six inches above the ground. They have to remain standing in this way while counting out loud until the law enforcement officer tells them they can put their foot down. Things that will indicate whether the driver is impaired are their ability to listen to and follow instructions. If they are unable to keep their balance or cannot keep count, it could be an indicator they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The accuracy of the one-leg stand test is 83%. This being said, if you believe that you were wrongfully charged with DUI based on one legal stand test, a Los Angeles DUI lawyer could help you challenge the evidence against you.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The last field sobriety test is not a divided attention test. Rather it examines the involuntary jerking of the eye known as horizontal gaze nystagmus. When a person's gaze moves from side to side, the eye naturally will jerk. When the person is under the influence of alcohol, however, this jerking can be exaggerated. The peace officer may ask the driver to follow a flashlight or pen with their eyes in order to examine this natural occurrence. Although this is 88% accurate, this test is not foolproof. There are other reasons why an individual may exhibit the same thing, such as certain medications or a health complication.

To learn more, please contact our office so that a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer can investigate your case.

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