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The Field Sobriety Test in a San Diego DUI
The court has adopted the regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in establishing the field sobriety testing methods. Any departure from this standardized measure developed by NTSTA is a deviation from the courts interpretation of the required procedures that will always result in compromised test results. There are only three tests that are considered standardized by NTSTA that will show a high probability of impaired driving if performed correctly. They are as follows:
What is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test?
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is typically the first sobriety test conducted in a DUI stop. The goal is to make sure all 25 steps are performed correctly when the officer is counting the clues while waiving the stimulus 12 inches away and asking you to follow the stimulus with your eyes without moving your head. The NHTSA manual states the test must be administered with precision or the results are unreliable. This means following your eyes and counting the correct amount of clues for unsteady gate, nystagmus at 45 degrees and at maximum deviation.
There is no study that claims the horizontal gaze nystagmus exam on its own can determine whether a person is under the influence of alcohol or what their blood alcohol level is. Horizontal nystagmus is not only result from alcohol intoxication. Other reasons for horizontal nystagmus is medical or caffeine and should be addressed to your attorney who is fighting the intoxication claims against you.
What is the walk the line test?
The walk the line test is performed immediately after the officer determines that there horizontal gaze nystagmus in your eyes. This test is to determine your motor skills and ability to physically perform to the standard required by the test. The officer will ask you to walk on an imaginary line. He will not tell you size or width of the line. This is a technique for the officer to make it appear you are on a tight rope and cause you to step off the line. Trust me if you knew that the line was suppose to be bigger then physiologically you would perform flawlessly. You are being set up to fail this test. The test is not complex but the officer wants you to think there is a lot of pressure in making sure you do not step off this imaginary line. Most of the time this test is not given in the exact format that NHTSA requires. The officer has his own scoring system for the test that is subjective. However, if the street is sloped or not even it is unfair for you to be scored subjectively. Any attorney you hire should take a picture of the street that you performed the test on to show a jury how one-sided the test was when performed most commonly in the middle of the night.
What is the one leg stand?
You are unlikely to have an officer administer this test correctly required by Title 17 under the NHTSA standards. There are possible variations of the exam. Sometimes officers will ask you to lift one leg up and count out loud while holding foot up. Other officers will ask you to count silently in your head while lifting your foot off the ground. Some officers want you to put your hands to your sides and others do not care. Despite the different standards that the officers use when they botched this exam, just remember people over 65, people overweight, or people with leg injuries cannot perform this exam. This exam is a joke and never performed correctly when given the opportunity to cross-examine an officer on the stand about NHTSA standards and their ability to accurately administer the exam as the manual states. The officer will just state you were swaying and your head did not remain still during the test. This has no direct correlation with how many drinks you had or how intoxicated you are on a scale 1 to 10. No juror takes this test seriously at trial!
What else will a jury hear at trial regarding my DUI stop?
There are other subjective criteria of intoxication that will come in at trial. The officers will always 100% of the time state there was an odor of alcohol, you had bloodshot eyes and you had slurred speech. There is no way an officer can tell how many drinks you had and what kind of drinks by the odor of alcohol. Furthermore, lack of sleep and contact lenses cause bloodshot eyes. The officer has never seen you before and has no knowledge about what your eyes are supposed to look like. Lastly, the officer understood everything you had said to him about that night when he wrote his report so how truly slurred was your speech? A jury will see right through these tactics that the officer will try to testify to as instruments of intoxication. It is important to hire an experienced attorney in San Diego that handles these matters on a day-to-day basis.
If you have any questions about a DUI in San Diego, feel free to contact San Diego DUI attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Attorney