Field Sobriety Tests: HGN, Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand

Field Sobriety Tests:

Field Sobriety Tests are the tests that a police officer asks a driver to perform when the officer suspects the person of driving while intoxicated. The three primary tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the One Leg Stand Test.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN). Nystagmus is a natural, normal phenomenon and can best be defined as an involuntary jerking of the eyes. Alcohol and certain other drugs do not cause this phenomenon, they merely exaggerate or magnify it. When the test is performed the officer is looking for one or more of the following: 1. the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly; 2. when the eye is looking to the far right or far left the eye is shaking; and 3. the eye starts to shake before it reaches the point of looking to the far right or far left. If nystagmus (shaking) is visible in all three clues, there is a 77% likelihood the individual has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.10. However, there are many other reasons that could cause nystagmus. For example, the officer’s squad car’s flashing lights can cause nystagmus and the entire test is invalid. Prescription drugs, eye disorders and head injuries can all invalidate the test. Finally the test has to be performed in a very detailed manner and most officers fail to follow all of the steps and time restrictions listed in the officer’s manual. As your attorney I will questions the officer using his Student Manual ensure the test was performed correctly.

The second test is the Walk and Turn Test (WAT). This test requires the individual to walk 9 steps and to pivot and walk back 9 steps. Most individuals taking this test will fail because the officer will claim the individual did not “touch heel to toe.” However, an individual is not required to touch heel to toe. Nevertheless, the officer will fail the individual. This test has many elements that an officer can be questioned about to determine if an individual really failed the test.

The third test is the One Leg Stand Test (OLS). Here the driver is asked to stand with his feet together with his arms down at the sides and to raise one leg approximately six inches off the ground, foot pointed out, while the driver counts “one-thousand-one” “one-thousand-two” and so forth. The officer will not tell the driver how long the test has to continue but will stop the driver when he gets to “one-thousand-thirty.”

All of these Field Sobriety Tests have many detail elements that if not properly done invalidate the test and a court will likely not consider the test as evidence. Using the officer’s student manual to question the officer in detail of each element of each test produces a clear picture of how well the test was performed. Most officers used their student manual years ago in training an have not looked at it since.

Finally, there are tests that the officer had you perform before you even stepped out of your car. Most drivers pass these tests. The tests that you did pass, the officer does not talk about to the court- – but I will. For example, there is the Divided Attention Test. This test requires that the driver concentrates on two things at once. For example, the officer will ask for your driver’s license and insurance (two items). If you produced both, you passed this test. There are many more tests and observations that can help your case that the officer will not talk about because it helps your case. It is my job as your attorney to show the Judge that the officer conducted many tests when you were pulled over and that you did pass some if not all of the tests or that a test was not performed properly and should not be considered.

With a brief conversation with you I can figure our most cases and tell you what has to be done right over the phone and the price I would charge. Discussing your case with me is free and I offer both telephone consultations or in person consultation. You have nothing to lose and your freedom to gain. If you call or come to meet me, I will simply tell you what has to be done and what I will charge – No obligation to hire me. I will give you the information and you can go on your way. No hard sell. I do not pressure you. I treat you as I would like to be treated – – with respect.