Glendale Field Sobriety Tests
When a driver is stopped by a Glendale law enforcement officer as part of the Glendale DUI Process, that officer will typically conduct various field sobriety tests as part of the DUI investigation in order to determine if the driver may be impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide have developed a series of tests that are designed to test a driver's motor skills and coordination and determine if a driver is impaired. Each test has its strengths and weaknesses, and no one test can conclusively determine whether or not there are drugs or alcohol in a driver's system. When having drivers complete various tests, law enforcement officers in Glendale are looking for certain indications that the driver may be intoxicated. At that point, there would be legal justification to request a breath test on a PAS device or to arrest the suspect and take the driver to the station for more accurate chemical testing.
In Glendale, the following field sobriety tests are routinely performed by law enforcement officers when conducting DUI investigations:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test – During this test, a law enforcement officer will ask the driver to keep their head perfectly still and follow an object like a pen or a light only with their eyes. When the eye reaches a certain angle, the eyeball will begin to flutter involuntarily. The onset of these movements occurs at different angles when a person is under the influence. An officer conducting this test will try to evaluate what angle these movements begin. The problem with this test is that it requires an officer to approximate very precise measurements and the entire process is not recorded for later review.
- One Leg Stand Test – For this test, the officer has the suspect raise their foot off of the ground for thirty seconds. If the driver is intoxicated they will have great difficulty in maintaining balance and standing still.
- Walk And Turn Test – During this test, a suspect is instructed to take nine steps following a line in the road and then he or she is instructed to turn around and walk back. Intoxicated drivers will have trouble keeping their balance and will often forget to turn around after taking nine steps.
- Rhomberg Test - During the Rhomberg test, a suspect is instructed to tilt his or her head all the way back and then count to 30. An officer will be looking for signs that the suspect is unable to keep balance.
- Finger to Nose Test – During the finger to nose test, a suspect is asked to keep their eyes closed and then to touch the tip of their nose with a finger while their arms are extended. Impaired suspects will often have trouble maintaining balance and will miss their nose completely.
- Other Tests – A driver may be asked to perform other tests that measure mental alertness, such as reciting the alphabet in reverse.
While there are a wide variety of field sobriety tests employed by law enforcement officers in Glendale, only the walk and turn, one leg stand and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests are recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) as being approved methods to test for impairment. The NHTSA has also recognized that officers should observe a driver's performance on a test and then make notes regarding their observations rather than simply stating that a driver passes or fails a certain test. If an officer does this, it could be used as evidence of bias that can challenge the objectiveness of that officer.
The problem with most of the field sobriety tests is that they are not performed by a purely objective party, but rather by a law enforcement officer in Glendale who may be looking for any reason to make a DUI arrest. Many of the tests rely on the officer's subjective opinions and are not recorded or available for review on a future date.
Many of the tests are much harder to perform than one would expect, even when sober. Numerous factors such as weather, temperature, clothing, choice of footwear and the driver's nervousness or physical condition can skew the results of these tests and may cause a person to fail the test.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Glendale, it is critical that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Glendale DUI attorney immediately. The right attorney knows how to evaluate and challenge an officer regarding a driver's performance on field sobriety tests and whether or not the tests were performed correctly. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Glendale DUI Attorney Michael Kraut is widely respected in Glendale as a tenacious litigator who knows how to effectively defend DUI charges.
For more information about Glendale Field Sobriety Tests, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Glendale DUI Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 450 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 600, Glendale, CA 91203. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 818-507-9123.