DWI Lawyer: Researching the Sobriety Test

How much information should a DWI lawyer have about the Standardized Field Sobriety Test? The more knowledge, information and research an attorney has, the better the chance for a positive outcome to the situation. Many people have seen the test administered on television during a realty TV show or even their favorite crime drama. In reality, interpreting the results is not as easy as it might seem.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Everyone’s eyes tend to shake a little when they attempt to look at extreme peripheral angles. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is involuntary and law enforcement officers believe that when a person is under the influence, the reaction will be more prominently noticeable, even at lesser peripheral angles. The test includes moving an object in front of a person slowly from side to side. Most of the time a small flashlight or pen in used.

Officers determine intoxication by checking to make sure that the eyes follow the object. In addition, they are looking for any type of noticeable jerking when the eye moves to peripheral site, anywhere past 45 degrees of the center. Any DWI lawyer with experience will point out that there is no video proof that this occurred, there is not adjustment for being outside at night while other cars continue to drive by, and there is no exception for people that tend to struggle with Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.

Walk and Turn

The suspect is asked to walk in a straight line, heel to toe, and then turn on one foot and continue in the opposite direction. These directions are given and the officer watches as the task is being completed. Again, in most cases, there is no video proof that shows how the accused performed. Ironically, this is not a task that most people must perform on a daily basis, while sober.

Law enforcement agents look to see if the task cannot be completed sufficiently. The problem is how to determine what sufficiently really means. Balance must be maintained during the instructions and throughout the entire performance of the task. A DWI lawyer often questions the type of ground the accused was standing on and requires very specific information about the missteps that allegedly took place.

One Leg Stand

The name of the test is self-explanatory; the suspect must stand on one foot while lifting the other somewhere around six inches off the ground. While doing these, they are required to count aloud by thousands. Imagine the task given to children tend to count too fast during a game of hide and seek — one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.

Balance needs to be maintained for at least thirty seconds. The DWI lawyer will point out that while using the arms to balance or hopping on one foot are both considered to be signs of failure, most people are not required to do this on a regular basis. It is awkward and much like the other tests, tends to leave a lot of room for interpretation.. personal injury lawyer

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