We remain open and steadfast in our commitment to helping our clients during these difficult days.

Proven Approach With Results Forged Through Experience

Image of attorney Mark L. Deniz

San Diego DUIs and Field Sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2014 | Firm News |

Most San Diego DUI cases have the individual perform field sobriety tests. If a law enforcement officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, they may administer afield sobriety test on the scene. Unlike a chemical test, which measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood or on their breath, field sobriety testing is used to assist an officer in the field as to whether the individual may or may not be impaired. Different police agencies use a variety of different tests. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standardized field sobriety testing involves three main tests. These three and these three only have been the only tests that have been validated by NHTSA to actually assist the officer in the field. The other tests can be open to scrutiny for why they are used (even though most agencies continue to administer non-NHTSA SFSTs). The NHTSA validated tests are:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) involves the way in which the eyes naturally jerk when rotated at high peripheral angles. When intoxicated, nystagmus becomes more exaggerated even when the eyes rotate at lesser angles, and the eyes also have difficulty smoothly tracking moving objects. The officer will administer the HGN test by having you keep your head still and follow with only your eyes a small object such as a pen or flashlight as it moves horizontally in front of you. During the test the officer will look for such signs of impairment as:

  • You cannot track the object without moving your head
  • Your eyes jerk distinctly at maximum deviation
  • Your eyes jerk when the onset angle is within 45 degrees of the center
  • One or both of your eyes is unable to track the moving object smoothly

Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test assess your ability to divide your attention between tasks that are presumably easier for a sober person to perform. The officer will administer this test by having you take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn on one foot, and then walk back to the start in the same way. The officer will observe you for signs of impairment, including:

  • You cannot balance while the officer gives instructions
  • You start to walk before the officer tells you to begin
  • You have to stop walking to regain your balance
  • You step off of the line
  • You must use your arms to balance
  • You take more steps than instructed

One Leg Stand Test

This test also evaluates your ability to perform two tasks at once that are assumed to be simple for a sober person. The officer will administer the test by instructing you to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground while counting out loud in thousands until you are told to stop. This test lasts for approximately thirty seconds, and during this time the officer will assess whether you exhibit any of the following indicators of impairment:

  • You swayed while standing on one foot
  • You had to hop to stay balanced
  • You had to put your arms out to balance
  • You couldn’t count
  • You put your foot back on the ground before being told to do so

If you were charged with a San Diego DUI after failing a field sobriety test, it is important to discuss your rights and the circumstances that led to your arrest with an experienced attorney. I and several other attorneys have been NHTSA trained in the field sobriety tests and know what to look for. The officer likely relied on the performance of the tests when arresting, so it only makes sense to closely examine whether the test was done properly. Were the proper instructions given? Was all other factors considered? This is just one part of a proactive and through defense.

Hire a Proactive, affordable, and quality defense when you are facing San Diego DUI charges. Whether you have been charged of a San Diego DUI, Poway DUI, La Mesa DUI, Santee DUI, Mission Valley DUI, Clairemont DUI, Point Loma DUI, La Jolla DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Mira Mesa DUI, Pacific Beach DUI, Del Mar DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Encinitas DUI, Oceanside DUI, Ocean Beach DUI, Escondido DUI, Vista DUI, San Marcos DUI, Carlsbad DUI, El Cajon DUI it is vital you need to hire an attorney who knows how to defend your rights and can determine if the government can prove their case. Contact the Law Office of Mark Deniz now for a free case evaluation at 858-751-4384 or send an email to [email protected] 

FindLaw Network
Share This