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What Are Field Sobriety Tests And Do They Work?

Okabe & Haushalter Feb 14, 2019 DUI

While we hope you never have to go through getting pulled over and having to perform a Field Sobriety Test, we want you to learn a little bit about them.

Field Sobriety Tests are a common tool that law enforcement officers use to determine a person’s level of impairment after they have been stopped for suspected drunk driving. Even if you have not had to complete one, you have certainly seen them on TV.

But are they fair?

First, let’s imagine what someone is going through when they are stopped. Maybe they just left a restaurant and yes, probably had a drink or two. Unfortunately, they have rolled up on a DUI checkpoint. The officer thinks he smells alcohol so he asked the person to step out of the vehicle.

At this point, your heart is pumping and adrenaline going. You know you only had a few drinks and are not drunk. When the officer asks you to submit to a Standard Field Sobriety Test you agree because, again, you are not drunk.

Here is the thing – many sober people fail these tests.

At Okabe & Haushalter, we want to help if you are facing allegations of drunk driving. When you need a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney, call us today.

What Is A Field Sobriety Test?

There are some misconceptions about a Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST). In reality, there are three separate standard tests that law enforcement personnel use:

  1. The Horizontal Nystagmus (HGN) Eye Test is the test officers use when they have someone follow a pen or other object with their eyes. It can be used to determine if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs because if someone has a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, this means they an involuntary jerking, bouncing, or rapid movement of their eyes when they gaze side to side. Studies have proven that there are conditions other than impairment that can cause a person to fail this test.
  2. The Walk-and-Turn Drill is meant to divide your attention. This is the test you commonly see on TV when an officer gives a person a series of instructions about walking and turning. A person is expected to listen to these instructions first and then complete all of the steps flawlessly, something that sober people have trouble with. Really, go look up videos of sober people performing this test and you will see how many fail.
  3. The One Leg Stand is another test mean to divide a person’s attention. An officer will ask you to raise one foot six inches off the ground, not let it hit the ground again, point the raised toe towards the ground, keep your arms by your side, keep your eyes on your raised foot, and then count from one to 30 in that position. Did you catch all of that?

What You Should Do Now

If you have been arrested after performing a Field Sobriety Test, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Okabe & Haushalter, we will work to prove your innocence by thoroughly examining the case against you and forming a defense strategy. When you need a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney, you can contact us today by clicking here or calling 310-430-7799 for a free consultation.