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What types of “Field Sobriety Tests” exist?


Building on our last discussion pertaining to Field Sobriety Tests, and their potentially fatal inherent flaws, let us focus our gaze more specifically on what types of tests are actually performed.

In California, there have only been three specific exercises that have been “standardized” and “validated” as an acceptable form of evidence of intoxication within the scientific community.  It is important to note that it is always a member of the scientific community who acts as an expert witness in the defense of your DUI case. These three exercises are known as the: (1) Nystagmus Test; (2) Walk and Turn Test; (3) One Leg Stand Test. Nystagmus (Horizontal and Vertical Gaze): During the Nystagmus test, the officer will position an object (i.e., finger, pen, etc.) 12-15 inches away from the driver’s face, and move the object from side to side while watching the subject’s eyes. The officer watches the eyes for the ability to track and/or the involuntary jerking of the eyeball. This jerking or trembling may be a sign someone has consumed alcohol. (However, Nystagmus is naturally found in a large percentage of society and can be indicative of many medical and physiological disorders.) Walk and Turn: The subject takes nine heel-to-toe steps along a line, turns, and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back. The officer is looking to see if the subject will follow instructions, balance, stop during the test, not touch heel and toe, step off the line, or lose balance while turning. One Leg Stand: The subject is instructed to stand with their heels together, arms at their side, and then told to raise one leg (your choice) six inches off the ground while counting out loud until the officer tells you to stop. Here, the officer is looking to see if you raise your arms for balance, sway, hop, or put your foot down.

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