Field sobriety tests are a series of tests that officers will administer at Dale City DUI stops to individuals upon suspicion that the individual has been consuming alcohol and driving. The field sobriety tests that should be administered are those that have been laid out by the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration, also known as NHSTA.
These NHSTA standards are nationally-approved. There are certain things that officers have to be trained on and certain ways that these tests have to be administered that are uniform across the country. This is an effort to standardize a version of some kind of testing that is not left as a subjective test.
In practice, officers will often administer whatever test they want, however they want to do it. However, only the NHSTA standard test should be considered appropriate for the purposes of determining whether or not somebody is under the influence of alcohol, because they are the only ones that are scientifically-based.
Some judges are of this particular opinion, and some are not. This is why it is important to hire an attorney that knows the judges in that particular jurisdiction.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a commonly used Dale City field sobriety test that is often under attack when defending a DUI offense. This test involves an officer holding a light up to an individual’s eye at a certain angle from their eye and moving it slowly back and forth. The person needs to track that light or device in a way that allows the officer to see whether or not the eye responds in a certain manner.
The officer has to be trained not only on the angle, but on the speed that they move the device and on the reaction on the eye. There are many things that can affect the way that the eye responds in those types of situations that have nothing to do with alcohol, making it one of the tests that a person’s attorney should be trying to exclude the results from for a DUI trial every single time.
The walk-and-turn field sobriety test refers to a test where an individual does a heel-toe for a series of ten steps. As the individual is doing heel-toe, they will have to count out loud. This makes it a divided attention test that causes the individual to not only count, but to hold a steady gait, keep their arms down at their side, and provide various other indicators that they are still able to have control over their facilities, including their mental facilities.
The one-legged stand test is another divided attention test. The one-legged stand field sobriety test in Dale City involves an individual standing on one leg and counting to a certain number, depending on how the officer wants to do that. This test should be given with numbers no longer than 30 seconds, the person’s foot has to be a certain distance above the ground, and the person’s hands should be down at their sides. This is a divided attention test to test the person’s motor skills as well as his or her ability to process and follow directions.
These Dale City field sobriety tests have to be administered in a certain way, which is why they are standardized by the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration. The problem is the weight of these tests is generally considered, because a person either passes or fails. The tests are just indicators and a person has to pass a certain number of indicators to pass the test. There is no right or wrong answer, or correct way to do these tests. It is a situation where an individual either does or does not display these indicators for the officer to say whether or not they passed.
The court takes these tests very seriously, and do not take them as just indicators. There are ways to attack the officer’s observations and attack the officer’s administration of the test, but it is going to depend on a case-by-case basis and the officer’s training.
Finally, not only can anybody refuse field sobriety tests, they should refuse these tests. An attorney can craft a much stronger defense if an individual does not participate in any field sobriety tests.
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