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Should do Field Sobriety Tests | Fresno Criminal Defense DUI Attorney Expert Witness

Posted by Jonathan E. Rooker | Nov 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

I was stopped for DUI and I took the Field Sobriety Tests.  I passed the Field Sobriety Tests, but he arrested me anyways.  I did all the tests right, but the officer arrested me, why?  I passed the Field Sobriety tests, why did the officer arrest me?  Can I beat my DUI because I passed the tests?

These are common themes when talking with a person cited for DUI.  Breaking down the mystery of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, will provide some clarity and understanding to what happens.  Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker is one of the few attorneys in the Valley who has completed both the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Student, and Instructor Course.  SFST's are a set of 3 tests, adopted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to help determine if a person is under the influence of alcohol and/or their blood alcohol is at a certain level.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus:

Specific Procedures:

If the suspect is wearing eyeglasses, have them removed.  Give the suspect the following instructions from a safe position.

* I am going to check your eyes

* Keep your head still and follow this stimulus with your eyes only

* Keep following the stimulus with your eyes until I tell you to stop.

The test that is considered the most accurate is the HGN, or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.  The administrator will (1) check for eyeglasses or contact lenses (2) give the verbal instructions (3) position the stimulus 12-15 inches from the tip of the subjects nose (4) check for equal pupil size and resting Nystagmus (5) equal tracking (6) check for a lack of smooth pursuit when the subject tracks the stimuli. (7) Look for distinct and sustained Nystagmus at maximum deviation (8) Onset of Nytagmus prior to 45 Degree angle (9) total the clues and finally (10) check for vertical nystagmus

Vertical Gaze Nystagmus:

The Vertical Gaze Nystagmus test is simple to administer. During the Vertical Gaze Nystagmus, look for jerking as the eyes move up and are held for approximately four seconds at Maximum elevation.

1.  Position the stimulus horizontal, about 12-15 inches in front of the suspect's nose.

2. Instruct the suspect to hold the head still, and follow the object with the eyes only.

3. Raise the object until the suspect's eyes are elevated as far as possible.

4. Hold for approximately four seconds

5. Watch closely for evidence of jerking.

The validated clues, according to the NHTSA

1. Lack of Smooth Pursuit

2. Distinct and sustained Nystagmus at Maximum Deviation

3. Onset of Nystagmus prior to 45 degrees

Maximum Number of clues is 6, 3 per eye.  The Decision Point is 4 Clues observed.

Procedures for Walk-and-Turn Test:

1.  Instructions Stage: Initial Positioning and Verbal instructions for standardization in the performance of this test have the suspect assume the heel-to-toe stance by giving the following verbal instructions, accompanied by demonstrations:

* Place your left food on the line (real or imaginary). Demonstrate.

* Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left foot, with heel of right foot against toe of left foot. Demonstrate.

* Place your arms down at your sides. Demonstrate.

* Maintain this position until I have completed the instructs.  Do not start to walk until told to do so

* Do yo understand the instructions so far?  (Make sure suspect indicates understanding)

2. Demonstrations and instructions for the walking stage explain the test requirements, using the following verbal instructions, accompanied by demonstrations:

* When I tell you to start, take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back. (Demonstrate 3 heel-to-toe steps)

When you turn, keep the front foot on the line, and turn by taking a series fo small steps with the other foot, like this. (Demonstrate)

* While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud.

* Once you start walking, don't stop until you have completed the test.

* Do you understand the instructions? (Make sure suspect understands)

* Begin, and count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as "one."

Walk and Turn Clues:

1. Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions

2. Starts before the instructions are finished

3. Stops while walking

4. Does not touch heel-to-toe (More than one half inch)

5. Steps off the line (one foot is entirely off the line)

6. Uses arms to balance (more than 6 inches from side)

7.  Improper turn (Removes the front foot from the line while turning.  Also record this clue of the suspect has not followed directions  as demonstrated, i.e. Spins around or pivots around.)

8.  Incorrect number of steps.

The Walk-and-Turn test has 8 standardized clues, shown above.  The Decision point is 2-clues.

Procedures for the One-Leg Stand Test:

1. Instructions stage:  Initial Positioning and Verbal Instructions initiate the test by giving the following verbal instructions, accompanied by demonstrations.

* Please stand with your feet together and your arms down at the sides, like this. (Demonstrate)

* Do not start to perform the test until I tell you to do so.

* Do you understand the instructions so far. (Make sure suspect indicates understanding)

2. Demonstrations and Instructions for the Balance and counting stage explain the test requirements, using the following verbal instructions, accompanied by demonstrations:

* When I tell you to start, raise one leg, either leg, with the foot approximately six inches off the ground, keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground.  (Demonstrate one leg stance.)

* You must keep both legs straight, arms at your side.

* While holding that position, count out loud in the following manner: "One thousand and one, one thousands and two, one thousand and three, until told to stop." (demonstrate a count, as follows: "One thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, etc. "Officer should not look at his foot when conducting the demonstration -OFFICER SAFETY)

*  Keep your arms at your sides at all times and keep watching the raised foot.

* Do you understand? (Make sure the suspect indicates understanding)

* Go ahead and perform the test.  (If the suspect puts the foot down, give instructions to pick the foot up again and continue counting from the point at which the foot touched the ground.  If the suspect counts very slowly, terminate the test after 30 seconds.  (Officer should always time the 30 seconds.  Test should be discontinued after 30 seconds.)

The Clues for the One-Leg -Stand are:

1. The suspect sways while balancing

2. Uses arms for balance (six inches or more from side)

3. Hopping

4. Puts foot down

Decision point is two 2 clues Maximum number of clues are 4

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Experienced Fresno and Madera County Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker understands the needs of each client are quite unique to each individual client. Some clients are looking to keep their drivers license, others are looking to avoid long periods of incarceration. Many times pride and principles are cited for the client's motivation to achieve a particular resolution to their case. Many clients just want to put their life, family, and career back together. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to coordinate and effective defense for the benefit of the client. It is essential that I provide the best defense for the individual person and their specifically tailored needs in life. I will help you by building the best defense that the facts allow. One important aspect of hiring a private attorney is the time they spend listening to your needs, and working to obtain an effective resolution under the circumstances. When these problems arise, it's time to reach out for a helping hand. I handle criminal defense cases on a daily basis, helping people with their issues. Let me help you.