FAQ - Field Sobriety Testing
Q: What are Field Sobriety Tests and why do law enforcement officers administer them?
A: Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are standardized tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests were created to provide law enforcement officers with guidelines to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Nearly every person suspected of DUI / OVI in Columbus and central Ohio is given these tests. Law enforcement officers administer field sobriety tests to help the officers determine a driver’s intoxication level and decide whether or not to arrest the driver.
Q: How are Field Sobriety Test results used in a DUI / OVI case?
A: Results of field sobriety tests (FSTs) are provided to the prosecutor, the court, and the jury to show an individual’s level of intoxication. In Columbus and central Ohio, field sobriety test results are used throughout the DUI / OVI court process. Results of FSTs may be introduced as evidence at hearings and at trial. The court can consider the FST results when deciding legal issues in a DUI / OVI case, and the jury can consider the FST results when deciding if the evidence proves a defendant is guilty.
Q: How many standardized field sobriety tests are there?
A: There are three standardized tests developed by NHTSA. Some officers use additional tests, but there are only three that have been thoroughly studied and standardized. The three standardized field sobriety tests are: (1) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; (2) Walk and Turn; and (3) One Leg Stand.
Q: How do officers administer and score the Field Sobriety Tests?
A: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test checks the involuntary jerking of the eyeball as it moves to the side. Law enforcement officers will examine each eye while an individual follows a pen or other stimulus to check to see if nystagmus (jerking of the eyeball) is present. Officers use a scoring system each time nystagmus is observed during the test to determine the probability that an individual’s blood alcohol level is .08 or higher.The Walk and Turn test checks an individual’s ability to follow directions and maintain balance. Law enforcement officers have a person take nine steps in a straight line, touching heel-to-toe. After the nine steps, the person must turn around and take nine more heel-to-toe steps down the line. Officers score the individual on several factors such as failing to touch heel-to-toe, stepping off the line, using arms for balance, and taking the incorrect number of steps, just to name a few. Officers use a scoring system for the Walk And Turn test to determine the probability that an individual’s blood alcohol is .08 or higher.The One Leg Stand test also checks an individual’s ability to follow directions and maintain balance. Law enforcement officers have a person stand on one leg while raising the other leg approximately six inches off the ground. The person must stand in that position and count out loud for thirty seconds. Officers score individuals on several factors such as swaying, using arms for balance, hopping, and placing the raised foot on the ground. Officers use a scoring system for the One Leg Stand test to determine the probability that an individual’s blood alcohol is .08 or higher.
Q: Why should I hire an attorney certified in Field Sobriety Testing?
A: Individuals charged with DUI / OVI in Columbus and central Ohio should hire an attorney certified in field sobriety testing if their case involved those tests. An attorney certified in Field Sobriety Testing can determine whether the tests were administered correctly. Attorneys certified in Field Sobriety Testing complete the same training as law enforcement officers, so they know if an officer made any mistakes in administering the tests. An officer’s mistakes on FSTs can influence the outcome of a DUI / OVI case. Results from tests administered incorrectly may be excluded from evidence (thrown out) and may affect a judge’s determination of whether an arrest was justified.
My practice is focused on DUI / OVI defense, I am certified in Field Sobriety Testing, and I represent clients that are contesting DUI / OVI charges in Columbus and central Ohio. For more information about me, please see my profile, and for details about my practice, please see the firm overview. You can also see what clients say and review my past case results. I limit the number of cases I accept so I can provide outstanding service to my clients. If you would like to discuss how I can help with your DUI / OVI, EMAIL ME or call me at 614-717-1177 to arrange a free consultation.