Fredericksburg Field Sobriety Tests

The battery of tests commonly referred to as field sobriety tests are simply instructions followed by observation, that police officers do during a DUI stop. The National Highway Safety and Transportation Association have done studies that indicate that someone who is intoxicated is more likely to fail certain tests than someone who is not intoxicated. However, these are not scientific and someone who is not intoxicated simply may have poor balance. Fredericksburg field sobriety tests are not only the way of determining impairment but could be instrumental in a DUI arrest. If you have been subject to field sobriety tests and want to challenge the accuracy of the tests, consult a determined DUI lawyer that could advocate for you.

Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests

Someone who is intoxicated generally does not have the same linguistic ability as a non-intoxicated person, and someone who is intoxicated generally cannot follow instructions as well. While it may be easy to determine when someone is extremely intoxicated, it is not nearly as easy for the tests to indicate a lesser degree of intoxication. Fredericksburg field sobriety tests are not accurate or scientific tests. There is one test in which the officer observes someone walking heel to toe and is looking for whether their toes and heels touch or whether they are an inch apart and whether they walk in a straight imaginary line or not. These are subjective questions, and while an officer will testify that they are trained to observe these tests, ultimately they are observing a subjective test and drawing a conclusion based on their subjective observations.

What is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test?

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is more commonly known as the flashlight test and is designed to observe whether the eye is moving in a fluid motion or in a jerky motion. The test involves looking at an object that is moved back and forth, and the person should be able to follow the object without moving their head. There are a number of other substances besides alcohol that can affect someone’s nystagmus. Nystagmus refers to whether the pupil is moving in a jerky motion or in a very smooth motion. It also can be affected by the distance at which the object is being held and by several other factors. While this is a test that can be used by doctors in a number of circumstances to help determine certain things about an individual’s health, the police officers who conduct these tests are not scientifically trained and are not capable of developing a scientific opinion based on the test. More importantly, the test is more often than not done incorrectly, so observations made from Fredericksburg field sobriety tests are questionable.

Defining the One Leg Stand Test

The one-leg stand test is a test in which an individual is asked to stand on one leg and to choose which leg to hold off the ground. The individual is supposed to hold both one and a half feet from the ground and count from 11,000 up to 31,000. In that test, the officer is looking for a lack of balance or a lack of ability to follow instructions. Perhaps somebody does not count from 11,000 to 31,000, instead counting 1, 2, 3, etc. That is failing to follow the instructions.

Often an individual has to hold their arms out for balance or put their foot down. It is not easy to stand on one foot. It requires a lot of calf and ankle strength as well as balance that a lot of people do not have, so a person has to consider this fact when dealing with the police officer. The police officer is trained to do that task and so they are used to standing on one foot. They have the muscle memory to do that, whereas a person who is not trained to stand on one foot and to show people how to do perform that task is not used to standing on one foot. It is an awkward way to stand that requires a lot of ankle strength and most people are surprised to find out how much actual ankle strength and balance is required to stand in that position.

How Field Sobriety Tests Should Be Administered

Fredericksburg field sobriety tests are supposed to be administered according to the observations of the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, but often enough they are not administered properly. Some police officers have developed their own method of doing things that they feel works better for them. Some police were not trained properly to begin with. Some police officers are more interested in certain aspects of the test and will just skip other aspects. However, they are supposed to be administered in a certain fashion and one reason to have a confident DUI attorney is to be able to look at exactly how those tests were administered and to be able to evaluate whether a problem with those tests may lead to a lack of probable cause when somebody is arrested.