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Field Sobriety Tests

By on Jun 8, 2012 in Blog, Boulder Colorado Law Advice Blogs, DUI Blogs | 0 comments

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It is important to know your rights when being questioned by police officers, especially in the realm of drinking and driving. Police officers will not allow you to contact a DUI Lawyer if they suspect you of driving under the influence. So every driver should understand what their rights are in this regard and what to do if suspected of driving while intoxicated.

There are two different forms of sobriety tests which an officer who suspects a driver to be intoxicated can give. There are the Standardized Tests and the Non-Standardized Tests. It should be noted that every test is voluntary, you are not required to do them. However, failure to participate gives officers reason to believe you are, in fact, intoxicated.

Standardized Tests consist of three parts which have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests were created in 1981 and were a way to standardize the process for officers to determine a driver’s sobriety.

Walk & Turn Test

The first test is the Walk and Turn. This shows an officer two things; one that you are able to follow instructions, and two that you are able to keep your balance while performing the test.

One-Leg Stand Test

The second test is the One-Leg Stand. Simply put, you must stand on one foot with the other slightly raised, and count aloud for 30 seconds. The officer will watch to see if you can keep your balance while performing the test.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The third test is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), which is a rather new procedure. Nystagmus is an involuntary twitching of the eye that occurs when you use your peripheral vision. So an officer will have you follow an object with your eyes without moving your head. When under the influence of alcohol, the twitching of the eye occurs less and there will be more difficulty in following the object.

Non-Standardized Tests

There are numerous Non-Standardized tests that can be given to help determine a driver sobriety, however they are not standardized, and mostly used in states where evidence provided by standardized tests are inadmissible. There are six common Non-Standardized tests, each attempt to determine whether a person can clearly follow instructions and perform said tasks without much difficulty.

Rhomberg Stationary Balance Test

The first is the Rhomberg Stationary Balance Test, which requires a driver to stand with his or her feet together, and lean back to look up while keeping their arms extended out on their sides. The officer is watching for any loss of balance.

Finger to Nose Test

The second is the Finger to Nose test, which has a driver close their eyes, and place the tip of their finger on the tip of their nose. This is to see if a driver’s motor skills are functioning properly, most can do this with ease when sober. However, it can become rather difficult when intoxicated.

Finger Count Test

The third is the Finger Count, which is simply having the officer put up a certain number of fingers and having the driver count that. Sounds easy enough, however if your vision is blurred due to drinking you may have to focus hard to get an accurate count. What then takes a few moments should have only taken one, and an officer will quickly notice this.

Hand-Pat Test

The fourth is the Hand-Pat Test, which is where you extend both arms out, one palm up, the other palm down. You then clap the palms of your hands together once, then the back of your hand to your palm once. You do this in repetition and an officer will notice if your coordination is off or if you lose your balance in the process.

ABC Test

The fifth and sixth tests are similar. There is the ABC test, which is as the name would imply. You must recite the ABCs, and at times you may be asked to recite them backwards. The other is reciting numbers backwards. The reason for these is that most people would not have a hard time saying their ABCs or counting backwards as they are quite easy tasks. Thus, if a person has any difficulty with them, it would signal to an officer that you may be intoxicated.

Critics of these tests claim that police are not trying to prove your innocence when giving them, but rather trying to find reasons of guilt. That difference makes them flawed in nature as police officers are the only judge of the tests, and a slight stumble or twitch of the eye is enough proof for an officer to suspect you of driving while intoxicated. Not to mention, not everyone can actually perform these tests, nor are the circumstances where they are performed the same everywhere. So a rock in the road, car passing by, or sun in your eyes can all have effects on the results, none of which would be in your favor.

If you have been charged with a DUI and are searching for a DUI attorney, than please contact The Clark Law Firm. With his knowledge and experience as a Boulder DUI Lawyer, he can help to determine what the best defensive course of action to take would be.

Phil Clark is a Criminal Defense Attorney for The Clark Law Firm in Boulder, CO. His experience as a senior prosecutor gives him a strong advantage for aggressive criminal defense and those in need of a Boulder DUI attorney. Contact us today for a FREE Consultation.

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