Field sobriety tests are used during driving under the influence (DUI) stops to assess a motorist’s impairment. Field sobriety tests are not chemical tests and do not measure the amount of alcohol in your blood or the presence of any drugs. Instead, law enforcement officers performing these tests look for indicators of potential intoxication by having an individual perform certain tasks.
Field sobriety tests are highly accurate and are subject to an officer’s personal interpretations. Because of this subjectivity, evidence obtained during field sobriety tests in Edina DUI cases can often be challenged with the help of a skilled attorney. If you are facing DUI accusations, call today to learn more about how a dedicated lawyer could help you defend against your charges.
Understanding Field Sobriety Tests
There are three field sobriety tests that have been approved for use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standardized procedures for performing these tests. When officers do not follow protocol for administering field sobriety tests, the outcomes may not be admissible in an Edina DUI court case.
The Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test requires the driver to stand on a line, walk nine steps forward while moving heel-to-toe down the line, turn around, and walk back nine steps the same way. During this performance, the officer looks for certain indicators as to whether the driver is intoxicated.
These indicators may include stepping off of the line, failing to understand the instructions, loss of balance, or taking an improper number of steps. This is certainly not a scientific standard and is based on the officer’s determination as to whether a driver is intoxicated.
The One Leg Stand Test
During the one leg stand test, an officer will have the driver raise one leg about six inches off of the ground. While doing this, the driver will stand on the other leg with their arms at their sides and count aloud for thirty seconds. The officer will be looking for sway, raising arms for balance, putting the foot down, or the inability to count to thirty.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking or twitching of the eyeball side to side. Alcohol consumption increases the presence of nystagmus. To do the test, an officer will have the driver follow a pen with their eyes while the officer shines a light into their eyes. They check not only if the person can follow the pen, but if there is significant nystagmus in the eyes while doing the test.
The officer is supposed to check both eyes individually and look for six possible indicators. Findings of four or more indicators indicates a probability of intoxication.
Challenging the Use Field Sobriety Tests
There are several possible defenses to the use of field sobriety tests in a DUI investigation. These defenses could mean that the field sobriety test evidence will be inadmissible against the defendant. Defenses that an Edina attorney could use against field sobriety test results include:
- The tests were not performed according to NHTSA guidelines
- The officer’s observations were not consistent with other evidence
- The original traffic stop was unlawful
- Chemical tests show the driver was not intoxicated
It is essential to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible after field sobriety testing occurs. Taking swift legal action gives the defense attorney time to gather evidence, such as body camera footage, that challenges the results of a field sobriety test.
Discuss Field Sobriety Tests with an Edina DUI Attorney
Field sobriety tests in Edina DUI cases are not always accurate. If you are facing DUI charges and you suspect that there was a mistake during your roadside testing, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. An experienced DUI lawyer could challenge the use of field sobriety tests in your case and fight to have your charges reduced or even dropped. Call our office today to get started.