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Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Standardized field sobriety tests are tests designed by the National Highway Transportation Administration to assist law enforcement in detecting intoxicated drivers. While officers may conduct other testing, there are only three standardized tests. The standardized sobriety tests include:

1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)

Everyone has nystagmus, an involuntary movement of the eyes. The consumption of alcohol or drugs may enhance the nystagmus. During the HGN test, the law enforcement officer will move an object horizontally and vertically in front your face. The officer will have you follow the object with your eyes only and without moving your head. The law enforcement officer is looking for three clues per eye for a total of six clues including lack of smooth pursuit, nystagmus at maximum deviation, and onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in each eye. The total number of clues will be noted by the officer in their report for later use at your ALR or Trial.

The law enforcement officer is conducting this test in an effort usually to gain evidence against you to use at your trial. You need a qualified DWI lawyer defending you. The police and prosecutors will attempt to utilize the HGN test to convict you of DWI. Doug Atkinson has studied the HGN testing procedures and will fight to eliminate this test from your case if possible. If the testing is done properly Doug will cross examine the police on all the problems with the HGN including false positives, inaccurate results, subjective nature of the test, subject screened properly, and officer proficiency for your DWI defense. Doug Atkinson is certified to administer the HGN test just like DWI trained police officers. Doug Atkinson understands the HGN test and will use his knowledge to defend you.

2. One Leg Stand Test
During this test the law enforcement officer will ask you to stand on the leg of your choice while lifting the other leg six inches off the ground. You will be required to keep your hands at your side, your toe pointed, and eyes on your foot. The officer will have you count in thousands until you have done the test for approximately 30 seconds. The officer is looking for four clues including swaying, using arms for balance, hopping, and putting your foot down.

You need a qualified DWI attorney to defend you against the government’s use of this often slanted and unfair “test.” You need Doug Atkinson to detail for you the people that are not qualified to take the One Leg Stand test. There are weight, age, and injury prescreening inquiry that needs to be done. The test is statistically predisposed to a significant false positive rate. The government lawyers and police will not highlight the failures of this test. Call Doug to sit down and discuss the testing in detail involved in your case and the effective ways to attack the testing for your case. Doug Atkinson is certified to administer the one leg stand test just as a DWI task force officer or Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper and will use his knowledge to defend you.

3. Walk and Turn Test
During this test the law enforcement officer will first ask you to stand with your right foot in front of your left (heel to toe) with your arms at your side. While you stand in this position, the officer will demonstrate the test to you. Once he has done so he will tell you to begin. At that time you will walk nine steps, heel to toe, in a straight line without using your arms for balance. Once you have taken nine steps you then turn and take the same nine steps back to the starting point. The officer is looking for eight clues including loss of balance, starting the test too soon, stopping while walking, missing heel to toe, using arms for balance, taking the wrong number of steps, and making an improper turn.

The Walk and Turn test has varied reliability. There are many citizens that are simply not a candidate to take this test. There are age, injury, and weight restrictions that police usually do not inquire into or care to take into consideration when asking a citizen to be tested on the side of the road. Feel free to contact Doug Atkinson to discuss your case and the effective defenses to this test in your DWI case. Without an experienced DWI lawyer defending you the government will use its trained attorneys to attempt to convict you of DWI. You must fight back or accept the serious penalties and collateral consequences of a DWI conviction. Doug Atkinson is certified to administer the walk and turn test just like a DWI task force officer or Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper. Doug will use his knowledge of the walk and turn test to defend you.

Can you refuse to perform the standardized field sobriety tests?
You may refuse to perform field sobriety tests. Many people are unable to do well on the tests because they are nervous, uncoordinated, ill, elderly or suffer from an injury. Additionally, many people are not candidates to take the tests because they are overweight or older than the standards allow for the test. Further, if the testing is performed incorrectly by facing you into bright lights or on unsuitable ground, you must fight to protect your good name. If you do not fight the government will likely convict you of DWI. If you feel that you were not intoxicated, but did not perform the field sobriety tests satisfactorily because of one of the factors listed above, then you should call Doug Atkinson now.

Can a refusal to perform field sobriety tests be used against you?

During your trial the government’s attorney will try to use the fact that you refused the tests as a sign that you had too much to drink and are guilty of DWI. However, without the tests there is less evidence for the government use against you.

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