Field Sobriety Testing
Ventura DUI Lawyer
The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported 863 DUI arrests for every 100,000 licensed drivers in the state in 2007, totaling 20,3866 DUI arrests in one year. Of these arrests, 6,264 involved felony accusations and 153,348 results in a drunk driving conviction. If you've been arrested for drunk driving, you probably feel hopeless and overwhelmed. Remember this: an arrest and a conviction are entirely different. Every year, thousands of California drivers are unnecessarily arrested for driving under the influence.
That's why our team of topnotch Ventura DUI attorneys is dedicated to helping drivers avoid DUI convictions. Call our office today to see what Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can do for your case.
DUI Arrests and Field Sobriety Testing
Police officers use a variety of methods to determine whether or not a motorist is intoxicated. Generally speaking, breath and blood tests and field sobriety testing are the two primary ways that law enforcement determine whether or not a driver is drunk. Field sobriety testing was created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help law enforcement create a consistence standard for DUI arrests. There are three basic sobriety tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and One-Leg-Stand (OLS).
Each test is conducted according to a set of standardized instructions. During the test, the officer observes the subject's behavior to determine whether or not the motorist will pass or fail the test. Many times, officers will use a combination of all three tests to obtain the most accurate results. According to the NHTSA, all three tests are 91% accurate when used together. Between 1981 and 1998, the field sobriety testing became significantly more accurate. In 1981, combined testing yielded accurate results only 81% of the time; in 1998, combined testing methods were accurate 91% of the time.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Testing
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus refers to a specific type of involuntary eye movement. HGN (a slight jerking movement) usually occurs when the eyeball is rotated to the fullest peripheral. However, intoxication can make this sensation occur at other times. Additionally, the movement may be exaggerated when a driver is drunk. During the HGN test, a law enforcement officer will hold a small flashlight, pen, or other object in front of the suspect's eyes. As the officer moves the object back and forth, he/she will observe the subject's reaction to it. If the subject's eye begins to jerk within 45 degrees of the of the eyeball center, the driver could fail the HGN test.
Divided Attention Tests
The Walk-and-Turn test is a "divided attention" test. In other words, it requires the subject to follow simple instructions while completing a task. Divided attention tests are easy for unimpaired individuals to complete. During the Walk-and-Turn, law enforcement asks the subject to take nine heel-to-toe steps on a line, turn on one foot, and take nine steps back to the beginning of the test. If the subject uses his/her arms to balance, doesn't walk heel-to-toe, or takes the wrong number of steps, he/she may be arrested for drunk driving.
The one leg stand test is another "divided attention" test. During the test, police officers instruct the subject to stand on one leg and count out loud by the thousands until instructed to put his/her foot back on the ground. This test can be failed several ways. If the subject puts his/her foot down, has to regain his/her balance, or sways back and forth during the test, he/she may be arrested for drunk driving. This test is 83% accurate.