Field Sobriety Tests
Three Types of Sobriety Tests in Washington State
If you are stopped by police for suspicion of DUI, the officer will likely ask you to perform a field sobriety test to help determine your level of impairment. Failing a field sobriety test can give the officer grounds to arrest you for drunk driving, and this evidence is often a crucial part of DUI cases in Washington. There are three main types of standardized field sobriety tests: One Leg Stand, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, and Walk and Turn.
One Leg Stand Test
The One Leg Stand test is as straightforward as it sounds. You will be asked to stand on one leg for about thirty seconds while counting aloud by thousands. During the test, the officer will observe your balance. If you sway while trying to balance, put your foot down, or fall over, you will fail the test.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
In the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the officer will have you follow his finger or a small object like a pen with your eyes while keeping your head still. The officer will observe you during the test to see if your eyes jerk or bounce, which are signs of intoxication.
Walk and Turn Test
For the Walk and Turn test, you will be asked to take nine heel to toe steps along a straight line, turn on one foot, and then walk back in the same way. The officer will pay attention to whether you follow all directions, step off the line, need to use your arms to balance, take the incorrect number of steps, or fail to turn as instructed.
Why Not to do a Field Sobriety Test
First and foremost, BE READY to ask for a lawyer. But also – be ready to be arrested. An arrest is usually going to occur. But that’s not what you really care about. You care about a conviction.
So how to avoid that?
Give as little evidence against yourself as possible.
Field Sobriety Tests are voluntary in nature. You do NOT have to perform them. By “cooperating” you are not going to do anything but help the police convict you later. Politely refuse to do the voluntary tests, refuse to answer any questions, and immediately ask for an attorney to be consulted.
Failed Field Sobriety Tests Do Not Guarantee Conviction
If field sobriety tests are not administered in the standardized way, the validity of the evidence is compromised. We have been trained and qualified to administer standardized field sobriety tests through the same courses law enforcement officers go through. Our team can use this training to evaluate whether the officer administered the tests correctly and challenge the results of your field sobriety tests.
To help defend clients and further strengthen their cases, we use a private investigator that is trained in standardized field sobriety testing and is also an instructor. we offer this additional service to my clients at no extra charge, which is a unique benefit of choosing my firm.
There are also numerous outside factors that can cause a person to fail a standardized field sobriety test. Possible defenses against field sobriety test evidence include:
- Test was administered on unstable ground;
- A medical condition hindered your ability to perform the test;
- You were wearing unstable footwear;
- The officer's instructions were unclear; or
- You were distracted by the noise and lights of traffic.
Combating False Field Sobriety Test Results
Field sobriety tests are subjective tests that are graded based on the officers' observation and judgment. Although they have been "scientifically validated," they are riddled with sources of error. Demand that certain factors be reviewed if these tests were used in your DUI case.
At DUIHeroes, our attorney team uses a network of private investigators and expert witnesses for every DUI case. Founding Attorney Jonathan Dichter is a trained and qualified instructor in field sobriety testing and DUI investigations.
Jonathan has been through the NHTSA basic and advanced classes as well as obtained Forensic Sobriety Assessment certification - steps very few DUI attorneys have gone through. He's even become a qualified instructor in the basic NHTSA course. These courses help us to fully and completely evaluate the pre-arrest screening battery of the field sobriety tests.
Points that we will look into include:
- Were the NHTSA Standardized Tests used?
- Were the tests conducted fairly and with clear instructions?
- Did weather or road conditions inhibit your ability to competently execute the demands of the tests?
- Was there any physical condition or disability present that affected your actions while the tests were being performed?
- Was the law enforcement officer involved operating from an impartial position?
- Was the officer properly trained in the administration of these tests?
- Were the tests performed according to the NHTSA standards and requirements?
- Were any unstandardized tests used?
- If you refused to take part in the tests, were you advised as to the consequences involved?
If you are facing a DUI charge following any field sobriety tests, our Lynnwood sobriety test lawyers can review this matter to look for information which may benefit your case.
Defense for Field Sobriety Test Results in Washington
Our Lynnwood sobriety test lawyers have had much experience assisting individuals with DUI charges, we understand the position in which you find yourself. The possibility that you may lose your license, have a criminal record, and face certain penalties can be overwhelming. There are, however, many actions our firm can take in seeking an acquittal for you. One of these includes challenging any field sobriety tests related to your case.
We are certified in the NHTSA Field Sobriety Program, which is the same course that officers are required to complete in order to perform such tests. This affords our firm a solid command of the subject and the ability to identify issues which indicate injustices. When these are presented to the court, they may have a significant bearing on the outcome of your case.
"The vision of DUIHeroes is to change the way the public views individuals charged with a criminal offense. And, to change the way they view the criminal defense attorneys who ethically and professionally stand up for and defend the rights of those individuals every day, because those rights are guaranteed to every single one of us. No matter what."
- Founding Attorney, Jonathan Dichter
“They supported and fought for me through all of my legal challenges!” - L.W.
“I recognize and respect the team's level of expertise and professionalism...” - Anonymous
“Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!