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Field Sobriety Tests in Anaheim

Developed in the 1970s, the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) is a set of three tests performed by a patrol officer at a traffic stop to determine whether a person is impaired or intoxicated. The three tests include the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand test, and the HGN or horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

These three tests are defined by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in their Highway Safety Desk Book. The tests are scientifically validated and permissible as evidence in Anaheim courts.

Walk-and-Turn Test

You are asked to take nine steps touching heel-to-toe along a straight line after which you should turn around on one foot and take another nine steps.

The officer then looks for eight signs of impairment. Some signs include: a lack of balance while being given instructions, stopping the walk to regain balance and not being able to move in a straight line.

One-leg Stand Tests

You are asked to stand on one foot with the other foot about 6-inches off the ground. You are then asked to count from one thousand in ones. (1001, 1002, 1003…). You are asked to hold the position for about 30 seconds.

The officer looks for 4 signs of impairment. Some signs include not being able to keep the foot up and swaying while balancing. There are obvious defenses to the results of this test.

HGN Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test examines the involuntary repetitive and rapid movement of the eyeball as they eyes gaze from side to side. For the test, an officer will ask you to horizontally follow a small flashlight with your eyes.

The officer then looks for four signs of impairment. Some signs include the eyes being unable track smoothly as well as sustained and distinct jerking of the eyes.

However, it should be noted that field sobriety tests, such as the ones listed above, do not have a guaranteed, 100% accuracy rate, although they are high. There are exceptions and defenses that can be made in certain circumstances. There may have been an instance where the officer performing the test did not do it correctly in the standardized manner they were supposed to. Also, for people that are older, they may have physical limitations such as being disabled that may have impaired their bodies in the same way that alcohol may have. Even if they are completely sober, they may also have scored poorly on the field sobriety tests. In addition, if a driver is nervous or has a physical condition, then the results of the test may not be reliable in determining whether or the test taker is intoxicated. There may also have been other factors, such as insufficient lighting or an uneven surface that may have influenced the test taker’s ability to perform well.

If you are arrested after having taken these tests, you should immediately call an experienced DUI attorney to help you manage the situation. With some help and under the right circumstances, you may not be charged.

Call our office today to discuss your field sobriety test and potential DUI charges.

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