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Field Sobriety Evaluations

The Roadside Tests

All of us have had the experience of seeing someone pulled over to the side of the road and walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. What you are seeing is administration of what are called the field sobriety tests, or FSTs.

Ben has undergone the same exact training that police officers have in conducting these tests, and he is certified to administer them himself. This training helps him identify the errors that officers sometimes make when administering these tests to people. When there is error in the test itself the results can be called into question, and this sometimes has a dramatic impact on DUI cases.

The Three Tests

There are three tests that you can expect to be subjected to if you are being investigated for driving under the influence. 

The first test is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, or HGN. The investigating officer will place his or her finger or a pen in front of your face and do a series of passes to monitor the movement of your eyes. Scientific evidence has established that people with a certain level of alcohol in their system will display involuntary jerking of their eyes, called nystagmus.

Nystagmus can be caused by dozens of other things other than alcohol consumption. Also, as is the case with the other field sobriety tests, the investigating officer must administer the test according to protocol in order for the results to be valid. An experienced DUI lawyer like Ben will scrutinize the video to examine the manner in which the test was administered.

The second test is called the walk-and-turn. Here, the officer examines you while you take a total of 18 steps on what is usually an imaginary line. This is what is referred to as a divided attention test, designed to test your ability to do more than one thing at the same time, with the theory being that intoxicated persons are unable to divide their attention the way that the test requires.

The third test, also a divided attention test, is what is called the one legged stand. Here, the officer directs you to stand with one foot off the ground and in front of you while you count to 30.

During the divided attention tests, the investigating officer is looking to see if you exhibit certain clues. If you exhibit two or more clues, you are considered to have failed the test(s). However, medical conditions such as injuries to your back or legs can impact the tests and can cause a sober person to fail the tests.

Challenging the Field Sobriety Tests

Reviewing the video of a DUI investigation is a critical part of a DUI lawyer's analysis of a case. As previously noted, when the field sobriety tests are improperly conducted, the reliability of the results is compromised. This could lead to their exclusion at trial and/or create reasonable doubt to a jury considering a driver's alleged intoxication.

Ben's certification in administering the filed sobriety evaluations enables him to effectively cross-examine police officers regarding their training and the manner in which they administered the tests. However, there are also occasions where it is necessary to present the testimony of an expert witness who has reviewed and critiqued the field sobriety tests in the particular case. 

For a free and confidential consultation regarding your DUI case, call Ben now at 404-985-9772 or contact him here


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