Charged with DUI? The Truth About Field Sobriety Tests

Recently charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence)? Video evidence taken during a Field Sobriety Exercise (“FSE”), may be the most damaging data to support the State’s DUI case against you.  The State will most likely use this evidence at trial.  The jury will watch the video of the traffic stop in order to decide whether you were under the influence at the time.

The following are the most common DUI FSE’s:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus-(“HGN”)During this test, the police will often use a pen with a light on the end of it and waive it in front of your eyes.  The purpose of the HGN test is to measure the involuntary jerking of an individual’s eye, which can be intensified if an individual is intoxicated.

Walk and TurnDuring this exercise, police will first explain and demonstrate the exercise and then will direct you to do the same.  You take nine, heel-to-toe steps in a straight line (drawn by the officer or perhaps the line of a parking space), with your arms down by your side.  Then, you turn around and take nine more steps back to the starting position.  The purpose of this test is to divide your attention to measure both your coordination and your ability to follow specific directions.

One Leg StandDuring this exercise, police will also first explain and demonstrate the exercise prior to directing you to conduct the exercise.  You have to stand on one leg while the other is raised about six inches of the ground.  You must have your arms down by your side and remain that way for thirty seconds.  Like the walk and turn test, the purpose of this test is to divide your attention to measure both your coordination and your ability to follow specific directions.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW…During a DUI stop, police officers MUST follow strict guidelines when administering FSE’s and if they fail to follow those guidelines, the court in some cases may throw out the evidence.  Most importantly, police can only request and not demand you to conduct FSE’s.  However, police do not tell you that the FSE’s are completely voluntary unless you ask, and even then they may not answer your question directly.

Whether you submitted to a DUI FSE or refused, contact our experienced team of attorney’s who understand the tactics used by police when they administer FSE’s.

Darin Color HiRes (1)Darrin Johnson is an associate with the Law Office of Robert Eckard & Associates. Darrin’s practice areas include criminal defense and business litigation.

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