Field Sobriety Tests:
A police officer will ask a driver to perform a Field Sobriety Tests if the police officer suspects that the driver is intoxicated. The three primary tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the One Leg Stand Test.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN):
Nystagmus is a natural, normal phenomenon and is best 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 officers perform the test, they see if the eye can follow a moving object smoothly. Also, they see if the eye is shaking when it looks to the far right or far left. Finally, they see if 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 instances, there is a 77% likelihood that the individual has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.10.
However, many other factors can cause nystagmus. For example, the squad car’s flashing lights can cause nystagmus. In this case, the entire test is invalid. Furthermore, prescription drugs, eye disorders, and head injuries can all invalidate the test. Additionally, the test has to be performed in a very detailed manner. Most officers fail to follow all of the steps and time restrictions listed in the officer’s manual. As your attorney, I will use the officer’s student manual to question the officer to ensure that the test was performed correctly.
Walk and Turn Test:
This test requires the individual to walk 9 steps, to pivot, and to 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 contains many elements that an officer can be questioned about to determine if an individual really failed the test.
One Leg Stand Test:
Here, the police officer will ask the driver to stand with his feet together with his arms at his sides. Then the officer will ask the driver to raise one leg approximately six inches off the ground, foot pointed out. Finally, the officer will ask the driver to count, “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two” and so forth. The officer will not tell the driver how long the test will continue but will stop the driver when he gets to “one-thousand-thirty.”
Did the officer properly conduct the tests?
All of these Field Sobriety Tests include many detailed procedures. A test will be invalidated if these procedures are not carried out properly, and a court will likely not consider it as evidence. Using the officer’s student manual to question the officer in detail about each element of each test produces a clear picture of how well the test was performed. Most officers used their student manuals years ago in training and have not looked at them since.
Finally, the officer had you perform tests before you even stepped out of your car. Most drivers pass these tests. The officer does not talk about the tests that you did pass to the court, but I will. For example, the officer had you perform the Divided Attention Test. This test requires that you concentrate on two things at once. For example, the officer will ask for two items–your driver’s license and insurance. If you produce both, you pass this test. There are many additional tests and observations that can help your case that the officer will not talk about because they help 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.
Telephone and In-Person Consultations:
With a brief conversation with you, I can figure out 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 and in-person consultations. 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. There is no obligation to hire me. I will give you the information and you can go on your way. I will not pressure you and will treat you as I would like to be treated–with respect.