DUI Lawyer: Field Sobriety Tests (FST)

DUI Lawyer: Field Sobriety Tests (FST)

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suit and tie 2Field Sobriety Tests can be a little scary and chances are, whether you have ever been pulled over for a DUI or not, you know about the Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s).   Field Sobriety Tests are used by law enforcement to determine whether a subject’s blood alcohol level is below or above the legal limit.  While these tests are used by the officer to help determine whether your BAC is above the legal limit, just because you might fail the Field Sobriety Tests does not mean that it is the end of the road for you.  There are several factors the officer needs to be aware of which could lead to a false positive during the Field Sobriety Tests.

There are three main tests officers perform and each test has its own unique set of conditions which may interfere with your performance.  Be aware of these conditions (well, as aware as you can be) if you ever get pulled over for a DUI.  In court, a condition interfering with your performance may render the results of the Field Sobriety Tests inadmissible.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

  • This test is administered by the officer by moving the stimulus across the left eye and then the right eye.  The test is to see if the suspect can follow the stimulus smoothly without jerking eye movements.
  • There are some conditions which may interfere with the administration of this test.  As it has to do with following ones eyes, wind, dust, and other types of irritations can interfere with the subjects performance.  Additionally, the rotating lights from the police car, strobe lights, as well as traffic passing in close proximity, could interfere with performance

Walk and Turn (Heel-to-Toe)

  • Performed by instructing you to walk down a real or imaginary line and then walking back, this test is used to determine how well you follow instructions, whether you can count to nine, and also checks your balance.  The officer should demonstrate to you how the test is to be done.
  • The first test requirement is that there must be a designated straight line.  Additionally, the test should be conducted on a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non slippery surface.  Furthermore, if you are over 65, or person with back, leg or middle ear problems, you may have difficulty performing this test.
  • The type of shoes you have on may also make a difference.  If you have shows with more than a 2 inch heel, you should be given an opportunity to remove those shoes prior to the test.
  • The officer should limit his movement as it may distract you during the test.
  • Finally, the weather, your weight, and your age may all be reasons as to why you did not adequately perform the test.  Keep these things in mind.

One-Leg Stand

  • This test is performed exactly how it sounds.  The officer asks you to stand on one leg, keeping your arms at your sides, for thirty seconds.  During this test, the officer is looking for swaying while on one leg, using your arms to balance, hopping to maintain your balance, as well as putting your foot down one or more times during the 30 seconds.
  • During this test, the officer should remain as motionless as possible so as not to distract you.
  • The test should be conducted on a reasonable dry, hard, level, non-slippery surface.
  • Furthermore, if you are over 65, 50 pounds or more overweight, or have back, leg, or middle ear problems, keep this in mind as you may have trouble with the test.
  • Finally, if you are wearing shows with more than a 2 inch heel, you should be given an opportunity to remove your shoes.

So there you have the Field Sobriety Tests Law Enforcement use to determine if you are driving impaired.  If you do happen to get pulled over for a DUI, do your best to remember how the Field Sobriety Tests were performed, and then call the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher to set up a free DUI consultation: 800-797-8406 http://www.markagallagher.com/.  We can help.

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