Field Sobriety Testing

One of the things DUI undo Consultants checks for in your DUI discovery from the state is your performance on the video of the standardized field sobriety tests (SFST), along with an analysis of the officer's administration of the SFST''s according to the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration's (NHTSA) guidelines. If the officer failed to instruct you per the NHTSA guidelines you may have legal recourse as to the admissibility of the FST as evidence against you. videos of DUI Checkpoints can be seen on You Tube

Did you take an HGN test or perform the FST's at roadside? Were you and the test videotaped at roadside?

Where you asked to recite the alphabet? Were you read your Miranda Rights before you recited the alphabet?
Click here if you recited the Aphabet before you were informed of your Miranda Rights.

Does the Law Enforcement Agency who arrested you have a written DUI Arrest Policy and Procedure or a Mobile Video Recording Policy and Procedure to videotape at roadside?

Defense Attorney's Link: Statistical Evaluation of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests by: Michael P. Hlastala,1 Ph.D.; Nayak L. Polissar,2 Ph.D.; and Steven Oberman,3 J.D.

Click here to watch video of FST's

Clemson Study Field Sobreity Tests - Are They Designed for Failure?

Decrease in Timed Balance Test Scores with Aging

Field Sobriety Testing (FST) is a series of psychophysical tests administered by law enforcement designed to determine if an individual is Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or More specifically, Field Sobriety Testing (FST) is used to determine if an individual is under the influence of alcohol.

Since the mid 1970's, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted research resulting in the creation of three standardized field sobriety tests. Initially referred to as Improved Sobriety Testing, these tests were further validated by the Southern California Research Institute and relabeled Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST). The tests were initially created by the Los Angeles Police Department Training unit and are now the standard recommended by the Federal Government through the NHTSA. A formal training program has been developed and is available through the NHTSA to aid police officers in becoming more skillful at detecting suspects that may be Driving Under the Influence (DUI) orDriving While Intoxicated (DWI).
The Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) consists of a battery of three tests which are to be administered and evaluated in a standardized manner in order to obtain validated indicators of impairment and to establish probable cause for arrest.

The three tests administered are:
1. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
2. The Walk-and-Turn
3. The One-Leg Stand

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Testing:

Click here for video of HGN

A Resource Guide for Judges, Prosecutors and Law Enforcement

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) is an involuntary jerking movement of the eyeball that occurs naturally as an individual's eye gazes to the side. Normally, nystagmus (jerking movement) occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. When an individual is impaired by the effects of alcohol, this jerking is exaggerated and can occur at lesser angles. Additionally, an individual Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) will have greater difficulty tracking a moving object. As the test is administered, law enforcement personnel look for three indicators of impairment. The indicators are:

1.If the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly.
2.If jerking is distinctly noticeable when the eye is looking as far to the side as it can (maximum deviation).
3.If the jerking begins when the eye is within 45 degrees of center.

The officer tests each eye. If, between both eyes, four or more of the indicators are observed, research indicates that approximately 77 percent of suspects will likely have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .10 or higher.

Illinois Supreme Court Questions DUI Eye Test
Illinois Supreme Court rules that one of the key field sobriety test used for decades has not been proved reliable.

The Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling in September that questioned the reliability of one of the key field sobriety tests used to convict motorists of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. The high court found that the results of a test known as horizontal gaze nystagmus should be open to challenge in court as an unsettled matter. The state court of appeals had earlier ruled that the principles underlying the test could not be questioned.

Nystagmus is the abnormal and involuntary jerking of the eyeballs as they track an object to the extreme range of their motion. The jerking movement tends to occur earlier for those who are either intoxicated or suffer from a number of different ailments.

Joanne McKown failed this eye test when it was administered to her in a hospital bed on June 8, 2002. She was then charged with multiple counts of DUI and reckless driving. At around 11:30am, McKown 's car crossed the center line and struck three motorcycles causing severe injuries. McKown admitted she drank two beers before leaving her home, had one beer while driving and was just about to start a fourth when the crash happened.

A blood test taken at 6pm did not reveal the presence of alcohol and McKown's broken toe precluded the usual one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests. McKown's conviction for DUI rested substantially on the nystagmus test which she took while under the influence of medication administered at the hospital.

The Illinois Supreme Court in overturning the appeals court's blanket approval of nystagmus noted that courts around the country do not agree whether the test is accepted as reliable.

"The NHTSA has admitted that the 45-degree angle test is wrong 22 percent of the time," the high court wrote in its treatment of prior case law.

The supreme court also recognized that research has found a number of substances, including caffeine, nicotine or aspirin, can cause reactions similar to alcohol that a highly trained medical expert would have difficulty distinguishing from the effects of intoxication. Embarrassingly, this argument came from the prosecutions own material.

"At least one of the sources the state provides in the appendix to its brief actually denounces the use of HGN testing for roadside sobriety tests," the court wrote.

"The technical writings above reveal a dichotomy in the scientific community, rather than the unequivocal or undisputed viewpoint necessary for us to take judicial notice," the court concluded. "As such, we cannot take judicial notice of the general acceptance of the HGN test as a reliable indicator of alcohol impairment based on these technical writings.... we find that this issue cannot be resolved in Illinois on judicial notice alone. "

California defense attorney Lawrence Taylor, who runs the DUIBlog website suggests this may not be the only field sobriety test that produces questionable results.

"These tests are highly unreliable and largely used to justify the officer's suspicions," Taylor wrote. "Although they are in reality no more valid at determining intoxication than the other tests, their adoption by the federal government has given them an aura of credibility."

The supreme court did not find McKown innocent. Rather, it ordered the trial court to conduct an extensive evidentiary hearing to establish the reliability of the nystagmus test. The full court opinion is available in a 180k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Illinois v. McKown (Supreme Court of the State of Illinois, 9/20/2007)

Divided Attention Testing

Your Ability to Listen and Preform these Test per Instructions Determines if YOU PASS OR FAIL.
(My mother used to tell me to put my right hand over my right ear so things wouldn't go in one ear and out the other. I suggest that if you are asked to perform FST's and you have difficulties in following directions, that you put one hand over one of your ears)
The Walk-and-Turn test and the One-Leg Stand test are both "divided attention" tests that are easy to perform by most sober individuals. The goal of divided attention tests is to require an individual to both listen and follow instructions while performing simple physical movements. The State and NHTSA want you to believe that individuals who are Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) will typically have more difficulty completing these tasks than an individual who is not impaired. Click here for more information on those facts.

Walk-and-Turn Test

In the Walk-and-Turn test, the individual is instructed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the individual is instructed to turn on one foot and return in the same manner along the original path. There are seven indicators of impairment for this test. The indicators are:

1.If the individual cannot maintain balance while listening to the instructions.
2.If the individual begins before instructions are finished.
3.If the individual stops while walking to regain balance.
4.If the individual does not touch heel-to-toe.
5.If the individual uses arms to balance.
6.If the individual loses balance while turning.
7.If the individual takes an incorrect number of steps.
Research indicates that 68 percent of individuals that demonstrate two or more of these indicators will have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .10 or higher.

One-Leg Stand Test

In the One-Leg Stand Test, an individual is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud in thousands until instructed by law enforcement personnel to put the foot down. The individual is timed for thirty seconds. There are four indicators looked for during this test. The indicators are:

1.If the individual sways while balancing.
2.If the individual uses their arms to balance.
3.If the individual hops to maintain balance.
4.If the individual puts the foot down.

NHTSA research indicates that if two or more indicators are observed there is a 65 percent chance that the individual has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .10 or greater.

Effectiveness of Field Sobriety Testing in Court Testimony

The effectiveness of Field Sobriety Testing in court testimony depends largely on the total number of indicators observed during the three tests. If many indicators were observed during each of the three tests, the higher the effectiveness of the testimony. If the Field Sobriety Testing was administered according to national standards, it has greater credibility than purely subjective testimony. Only a qualified and competent Gladiator DUI - DWI Defense Attorney can effectively assist in determining if the test was properly administered and build a solid defense to defend against incorrect administration or interpretation of the test results.


Contact Us Today!

"Why Call DUI undo?"

Because you can't undo what you don't know how to do.