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Field Sobriety Tests in Orange County

Get a Board Certified DUI Defense Attorney on your side.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are agility tests that are used by law enforcement to determine if a person is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. If a person is believed to have been driving while under the influence, law enforcement may request that the person perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests before deciding to make a DUI arrest. To discuss your rights, and how to protect them, you can email Ms. Landry and her staff here. In addition, you can listen to, and or download, her Orange County DUI Attorneys Podcast episodes by clicking here.

Field Sobriety Tests & DUI Arrest

When a person is stopped for DUI, he/she may be asked by the officer to perform a series of field sobriety tests. It is up to the police officer to determine if the person has passed or failed his/her field sobriety tests. New regulations in 2023, take away the pass/fail designation and talk simplistically about the “totality of the circumstances.”  This change was because so many officers improperly gave instructions, or were not accurately “scoring” the test results.  The police officer must closely monitor the person’s balance, coordination, and motor skills while the person performs the test. The officer will decide if the person has correctly followed given instructions. It is believed that if a person is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, he/she will have poor coordination, and not successfully complete the field sobriety tests.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are standard procedure in a DUI police stop. These tests are conducted on the side of the road to determine if a person suspected of drunk driving is actually too intoxicated to operate a vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has closely regulated field sobriety tests throughout the years. Currently, only three field sobriety tests are considered standardized by the NHTSA.

The Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus:  which is simplistically following a pen or finger with one’s eyes while standing still and not moving your head
  • Walk-and-Turn: walking in a straight line, with hands down to your sides, leaving no gaps over 2 inches, while looking at your feet,then turning in a specific manner while keeping your arms at your sides and walking a correct number of steps in the opposite direction
  • One Leg Stand:  while raising a foot off the ground to a certain height, while not hopping,  nor using arms for balance, nor putting your foot down.

Inaccuracies in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Most people are under the impression that standardized field sobriety tests can determine if a person is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol, but this is not true. In many cases, it has been discovered that people have performed poorly during field sobriety tests for reasons other than intoxication.  The vast majority of people can not do those human maneuvers the way the police officers want them to perform.  

A person can perform field sobriety tests poorly for reasons such as:

  • Poor roadside conditions (such as slippery roads)
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Poor lighting
  • Distraction from headlights or traffic
  • Poor instructions
  • The driver’s type of footwear
  • Medical conditions that impair the person’s coordination
  • A natural lack of balance or coordination
  • A pre-existing illness, injury, or disability
  • The officer did not give clear instructions
  • The officer’s opinion is biased
  • Age 
  • Overweight
  • Stress

These sobriety tests are extremely subjective and have lost some weight in courts because it is left to the discretion of the officer to decide whether or not an individual successfully completes a test and whether they should be placed under arrest. Unlike a breathalyzer test, these tests are not based on any scientific data or formula; it is purely based on the officer’s opinion. This means that many sober people can fail field sobriety tests and be wrongfully charged with a DUI.

Orange County & Southern California DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with DUI in Orange County, California or in the neighboring Southern California counties, you need to consult with a skilled DUI defense attorney immediately. The Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry has been representing clients charged with DUI in Orange County and surrounding areas for years. We know that DUI charges demand prompt attention and that each DUI case should be carefully evaluated by an experienced lawyer. When it comes to successfully fighting your  California DUI charges, having a reputable Orange County DUI attorney on your side is crucial. We provide clients with thorough and thoughtful legal counsel, as well as providing the aggressive defense they need to contest their DUI charges.

You Only Have 10 Days!

If you do not act immediately, you could lose your right to drive.

When you are arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license and give you a “notice of suspension” that will serve as a temporary license. California law requires you to choose between a breath or blood test if lawfully arrested. 

If you failed to complete or declined/refused a breath test or blood test, the DMV will begin suspension proceedings starting on the 31st day after your arrest. 

You must contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest in order to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license, or it will be suspended regardless of the outcome of your case. 

We handle making these arrangements for our clients.

The DMV hearing and your criminal case are two entirely separate parts to your California DUI charges. Even if you are not found guilty of DUI, you could still lose your license depending upon how the DMV hearing goes. 

Your Orange County lawyer will be able to represent your interests in your DMV hearing to help ensure that you have the best chance at keeping your driving privileges. 

If keeping your license is important to you, you should speak immediately with an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer to discuss your options and to learn how your right to drive can be protected.

Contact Our Orange County DUI Attorney

While FSTs are often used as evidence in DUI cases, they are not foolproof. Many factors, such as medical conditions, fatigue, and nervousness, can affect a person's performance on these tests. Our skilled attorneys know how to challenge the validity of FST results and raise doubts about their accuracy in court.

With years of experience defending DUI cases in Orange County, our firm has a proven track record of success. We understand the intricacies of California DUI laws and use our knowledge to build strong defenses for our clients. If you're facing DUI charges based on field sobriety tests, contact us today for a consultation. We'll fight tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Discuss your case with a DUI attorney in Orange County for a free evaluation. Call us at (949) 694-8804 or contact us online to get started. 

Client Testimonials

At Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., your satisfaction is our priority! See for yourself what our clients have to say about working with us.

    "Best DUI attorney in Orange County. She far exceeded my expectations."
    Best DUI attorney in Orange County. She far exceeded my expectations. You can tell she cares about her clients. She’s strategic and relentless. If you want the best results possible, retain Virginia Landry.
    - Google Reviewer
    "She was very detailed and meticulous on how she handled my case and I couldn't be any happier with the outcome!"
    My case was dismissed DUI, due to her help. I sincerely appreciate it. My case is finally over now. If you have any concerns or cases, and you need help but can't find a trusted lawyer, I highly recommend hiring Virginia. She was very detailed and meticulous on how she handled my case and I couldn't be any happier with the outcome!! She is an excellent lawyer! Do not hesitate to contact her, and again I really appreciate her help!
    - Bella L.
    "Absolutely incredible and worth every penny spent. Her compassion is beyond my understanding"
    WOW!!!!! Virginia Landry is an absolute professional who knows what she's talking about. But she doesn't just talk, she is ALL ACTION. I was quite nervous as she was a referral and I'll have to say I'm so glad I was referred. Absolutely incredible and worth every penny spent. Her compassion is beyond my understanding, especially in these times. I can't say enough other than HIRE HER NOW!!! You will NOT be disappointed. A+++++++++
    - S.D.

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You Only Have 10 Days! If you do not act immediately, you could lose your right to drive.