Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety testing for DWI is a critical element in DWI prosecution and defense. They are the type of evidence that can be fought against by a DUI Lawyer. Field sobriety tests serve as the most convenient method by which an investigating police officer can ascertain whether there is “reasonable cause” that a person may be under the influence of a drug or alcohol thus face DUI charges.
The use of sobriety testing must stem from probable cause, and be established before a suspect can be arrested and then charged with OUI / DWI.
Sobriety tests are physical agility exercises that are subjective in nature, and designed for the accused to fail. Common tests include: Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, Standing on One Leg, Finger to Nose, and The Rhomberg Balance test.
The Nystagmus test involves an officer holing a pen about a foot away from the driver’s face, moving it from side to side while watching the subject’s eyes. The officer is looking for involuntary jerking or trembling of the eyeball which might indicate the person has ingested an intoxicant. A person who is very sensitive or nervous may exhibit such trembling which the officer is looking for.
The Walk and Turn Test: The officer has the person take 9 heel-to-toe steps along a line, turn and take 9 heel-to-toe steps back. The officer watches to see if the person can keep their balance, follow instructions, stop during the test, step off the line, or lose balance while turning. Someone who is tired, driven long distances or who has physical problems with their feet, legs, hips and balance may fail this test.
Standing on One Leg test has the person told to stand with heels together, arms at the side, then raise one leg six inches off the ground while counting out loud until the officer tells them to stop. The officer is looking for arm raising, swaying, hopping, putting the foot down, inability to stand still, body tremors, muscle tension, and any comments the person makes. People who are tired, who have just had a physical workout such as weight lifting, with some balance problems, wobbly uneven soles in their shoes, and who are nervous or distracted by things going on around them at the time (cars and trucks passing by) may lose their concentration and fail the test.
Finger to Nose test requires the suspect to place his or her feet together while standing straight with eyes closed, and bring the index finger to the nose as ordered by the officer. This test would cause many people with limited balance, or muscle related issues to wobble. Far sighted individuals may find the closeness of their finger to cause them to lose focus and therefore their balance.
The Rhomberg balance test has the accused individual stand at attention, close their eyes, tilt their head back, and stay there for 30 seconds. The officer is looking for swaying, tremors, muscle tension, opening eyes to maintain balance, or any comments made by the accused. It is also a test of the suspect’s sense of time which may be slow. Many people have natural balance problems, muscle tension from long distance driving in an uncomfortable seat in busy traffic, along with problems with their shoes or feet and legs. Some people have a slower perception of time.
DUI Boston Lawyer
Ed Sharkansky provides clients with defense excellence in drunk driving cases. Don’t plead guilty when you have a good DUI lawyer and a fighting chance to win your DUI case or at least receive a lesser sentence upon conviction.