Subjected to a Field Sobriety Test?Get a Board Certified DUI Defense Attorney on your side.
Field Sobriety Tests in Orange County
Field sobriety tests (FST) 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 field sobriety tests before deciding to make a DUI arrest.
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. 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 fail 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 Nystagm, which is following a pen or finger with one's eyes
- Walk-and-Turn, walking in a straight line then turning and walking in the opposite direction
- One-Leg Stand
Inaccuracies in Field Sobriety Tests
Most people are under the impression that 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.
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
These 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 passes 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 & Irvine DUI Lawyer
If you have been charged with DUI in Orange County or Irvine, 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 Irvine 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 DUI charges, having a reputable DUI attorney on your side is crucial. We provide clients with the thoughtful legal counsel and aggressive defense they need to contest their DUI charges.