Field Sobriety Test

New Orleans DUI/DWI LawyerThere are many ways in which a police officer can detect when a driver is intoxicated, but there are three main methods in constant use:
1.    Observation - A police officer will pull you over if he thinks you are driving under the influence. If an officer sees you driving erratically, swerving, speeding, failing to stop, or even when a person is driving too slow then they can pull you over for suspicion of driving under the influence. There are excuses for these behaviors such as being tired or not paying attention, but if the cop smells alcohol or there other hints of being influenced from another substance then he or she is unlikely to buy your story and you will be arrested.

2.    Sobriety Test - If an officer believes you are driving under the influence then he or she will usually ask you to get out of the car and perform different test to see if you are under the influence. The Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is comprised of three tests to be performed to determine if the driver is over the legal blood alcohol concentration. The three test are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk and turn, and the one leg stand test. These tests were developed in the 1970s and have been scientifically validated. The evidence shown through these test can be admissible in court.
a.    Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The HGN is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball which occurs naturally as the eyes gaze to the side. Under normal circumstances, this occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. However, when a person is impaired by alcohol, the nystagmus is exaggerated and may occur at lesser angles. In the HGN test, the officer observes the eyes of a suspect as the suspect follows a slowly moving object, such as a pen or flashlight, horizontally with his eyes. The police officer will usually look for three indicators of impairment in each eye: if the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly, if jerking is distinct when the eye is at maximum deviation, and if the angle of onset is within 45 degrees of center. If four or more clues appear, between the two eyes, then the subject is likely to have a BAC of .08 or greater. The HGN may also indicate the use of other medications, a variety of inhalants, barbiturates, and other depressants.

b.    Walk and Turn Test: This test occurs when the police officer directs the suspect to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After the suspect has taken the steps, he or she must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. The officer will look to seven clues of intoxication: if the suspect cannot keep balance while listening to directions, begins before the instructions are finished, stops while walking to regain balance, does not touch heel-to-toe, uses arms to balance, loses balance while turning, or takes an incorrect number of steps. If two or more of these indicators are present then it is evidence of impairment. That is to say, if you show two or more of these clues, your blood alcohol content will likely be over the legal limit.

c.    One Leg Stand Test: In this type of test the subject is instructed to stand with one foot approximately 6 inches off the ground and count aloud by ones beginning with one thousand until told to put the foot down. This will usually last for 30 seconds. There are four ways in which the officer will notice intoxication: swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down. If the police officer sees that you indicate two or more of these clues then he or she will likely arrest you.
The Need for an Experienced Louisiana DUI/DWI LawyerIf you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI it is important to have an experienced New Orleans DUI lawyer on your side. Cliff Cardone has been practicing law for nearly 40 years and knows the ways to defend a DUI charge. These test that are done in the field can be fought through the legal system. Mr. Cardone can punch holes through these tests by analyzing videos taken at the time of the arrest or any other factors that contributed to the suspicion of the DUI. These tests will always include human error and can be fought in court. These tests have been criticized for being inaccurate and unreliable, and they require a subjective determination by the police officers of several indications of intoxication which allows a chance for the officers to be biased by his or her preconceived opinion of whether or not you are under the influence.

Phone Cardone at 504-522-3333 or toll free at 1-888-892-2736 if you have been arrested for a DUI/DWI. Mr. Cardone has sat as an AD HOC Traffic Court Judge for almost 20 years and knows the Traffic Court System as a former prosecutor, Judge, and defense lawyer. The Cardone Law Firm will fight to get you the best possible outcome for your case.