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Field Sobriety Tests in Aliso Viejo

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) was developed in the 1970s as a scientifically valid way to bring evidence to court and prove a person was in fact driving under the influence (DUI) of a substance. Research findings show that officers who are trained to conduct the SFST to identify alcohol impairment are correct 90% of the time.

The truth is, FSTs can be easily disproven and are mainly meant to collect evidence against you, as opposed to being a means by which to objectively determine your level of sobriety. There is no “passing” a field sobriety test.

The 3 SFST tests

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the SFST comprises of a battery of 3 tests. These tests include the following:

  • The walk-and-turn test,
  • The one-leg stand tests and
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test

The first two tests are dexterity tests and are designed to measure a person’s attention span (or lack thereof) due to alcohol impairment. These two tests entail the driver listening and following instructions while performing a simple physical movement. Any sober driver can easily pass these two tests. However, an impaired driver will sometimes display divided attention between performing the physical and the mental tasks. The walk-and-turn test consists of the suspect taking nine steps along a straight line, from heel to toe. Then, they are supposed to turn around and do the same in the opposite direction. After administering this test, officers look for indicators of whether or not the suspect is intoxicated such as the inability to balance or using arms, not turning correctly, taking the wrong amount of steps, or not being able to follow simple instructions. With the one-leg stand test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one of their feet about six inches above the ground and count starting at one thousand until they are instructed to put their foot down and stop. Some of the indicators that officers look for with this test are swaying, hopping, or not being able to balance.

The third of the 3 SFST tests (HGN test), is meant to observe whether the driver’s eyes involuntarily jerk around as a stimulus is moved around in front of the driver’s eyes. A sober driver will usually have stable eyes that don’t involuntarily move around, while an inebriated driver’s eyes will move less smoothly, and may not have what is generally considered a full range of motion.

We have used many defenses to successfully defend findings of a field sobriety test. The fact is that most people don’t practice walking in a straight line toe to heel, don’t practice standing on one foot while reciting the alphabet backwards, or that certain environmental factors contributed to the driver inadequately following the officer’s object while performing the HGN test. Likewise, no two officers have the same judgment. While one officer might find a person to “fail”

Your best option to take

If you are arrested for a DUI in Aliso Viejo, it is important that you call an experienced criminal lawyer to defend the allegations against you. With a well-trained and experienced DUI attorney, you will be able to get the best possible outcome and probably even have charges dropped due to invalidity of evidence.

Contact Johnson Criminal Law Group to protect your rights, and evaluate and challenge the findings of the SFST.

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