West Palm Beach Field Sobriety Tests
fighting back against faulty tests
Thousands of arrests take place every year when an officer suspects that a driver may be under the influence of alcohol. There is no full proof way for them to examine this, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a number of tests that can be used during their examination. These are known as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are there are three that can be used separately or together.
It is believed that using them together provides for further accuracy, though man officers already have their mind main up prior to even administering a test; this can just be further evidence for their arrest in case the incident is disputed.
Field sobriety tests have been assessed and determined to review a number of factors that are important for an officer to take note of. The three types that have been developed which include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the One-Leg-Stand and the Walk-and-Turn. These tests are calculated by the NHTSA to have a certain level of accuracy themselves, though this does not mean they are full proof. Tests will be assessing physical outward signs, as well as other effects which can be more internal. Helping understand what officers are looking for can help prepare you in the event of a future incident, so contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer at my office today.
This test will inspect Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. This is a natural and involuntary movement of the eye that happens when a person looks to the side. The eyes can only move so far before they will jerk back a ways. Typically nystagmus will set in once the eyes are taken to a certain angle. This will be altered when a person is influenced by their alcohol intake.
Alcohol can make nystagmus happen sooner and be intensified. An officer that is looking to test this will have an object such a pen or a flashlight to use. They will review both the left and the right eye separately by assessing three things: if there is trouble moving the eye smoothly, if jerking becomes evident when the eye is brought to maximum deviation and if the jerking occurs within 45 degree of the center of the eye.
During the One-Leg-Stand a person will be required to balance on one leg, while the other one is raised about six inches from the floor. They will be told to count by thousands until the officer instructs them that they can place their foot down. This will generally be for a period of 30 seconds. They will be evaluating for a number of signs, including if the suspect hops, puts their foot down, uses their arms to balance or sways.
Walk and Turn
This test will require a suspect to walk a line with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. After taking nine steps they will then turn around on one foot and come back the same way. An officer will be checking to see if they can perform the test physically or if they use their arms, stop to regain their balance, step off the line or make a wrong turn.
The officer will also be looking for their ability to follow instruction, as this can be hindered by alcohol use. They will assess if the individual follows the instructions correctly, starts too soon, takes the wrong number of steps or does not walk heel to toe. It is typical that the suspect will need to demonstrate more than one of these signs, as it can be easy for most people to exhibit one even if they are sober.
Challenging the prosecution
These tests are ranked differently in accuracy, with the One-Leg-Stand test having the highest accuracy at determining who is alcohol impaired. This does not mean that failing a test means that a person is guilty and many individuals that are innocent have been negatively portrayed through the findings of these tests. There are ways to defend against a test, including demonstrating if an officer had not been properly trained in how to administer them or if there were outside factors that came in to play.
Some individuals are nervous and can appear different than they normally would. Others may have the glare from oncoming cars shining in their eyes and this can skew the results of an HGN test. These tests may be used along with a chemical test, which is also not without fault.
DUI can be fought, even if there are negative outcomes in a field sobriety test. Call to get started.