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Dumfries DUI Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests are a series of tests which are designed to determine whether a person is under the influence. They are often referred to as divided attention tests, meaning that the test will ask a person to do more one thing at the same time because the more impaired by alcohol or drugs a person is, the more difficult that becomes for them to perform more than one task at the same time.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Dumfries after taking a Field Sobriety Test, contact a DUI attorney right away to see how they can help defend your case.

Types of Tests

Every officer uses a Field Sobriety Tests in somewhat unique ways. In Dumfries, in most cases, the standard Field Sobriety Tests which involves the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the nine-step walk and turn and the one-legged stand are used. However, every officer has some variation in how they administer these  tests as well as whether they use other tests such as a finger to nose tests, an alphabet test, a counting test, or many others seen in a DUI case.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus is a medical test which is used to determine whether a person is under the influence. It involves the individual following an object which is usually either a pen or the officer’s finger from center to the maximum periphery of their left-hand side as well as the maximum periphery of the right-hand side. A person who is sober will be able to smooth pursuit the object without their eyes jerking or bouncing. However, the more intoxicated the person becomes, the more their eyes will bounce or jerk.

Walk and Turn Test

A walk and turn test or what some people call the walk-the-line test involves the defendant being asked to take a series of nine steps, touching heel to toe along a straight line. And then, making a turn and walking nine more steps back also touching heel to toe. The defendant is told that they should keep their hands at their side and count aloud as they take these steps. In this test, police are looking whether the person is able to maintain balance, whether they lift their arms for balance, whether they touch heel to toe, take a proper number of steps and/or whether they properly execute the turn.

One Leg Stand Test

The one leg stand test involves a person being asked to stand on one leg and raise the other leg six inches off the ground while keeping their hands on their side while counting aloud to 1030, starting at1000. Again with this test, the police are watching to see whether the person properly executes the test as it was explained to them or whether they have difficulty with any facets of the test.

Value of the Test at Court

Because these tests were developed and studied with instructions being given in a very particular way, the results of the tests are only valid if the tests are administered exactly as it was under the conditions where the study was performed. For this reason, the police must offer and explain the test in exactly the same way every time. If this is not done, then the results of Field Sobriety Tests will not be valid in court.

In most DUI trials, these tests relate to the issue of whether there is probable cause for arrest. Generally, the defendant’s attorney will challenge whether police had enough evidence at the time to arrest the person. The Field Sobriety Tests will be looked at to determine whether there was, in fact, probable cause. If they are performed correctly and administered correctly by the police then they have significant weight in a trial setting. They lose weight, however, when the test is not administered correctly.

Right to Refuse

You have an absolute right to refuse to perform Field Sobriety Tests in Dumfries. The Fifth Amendment of the constitution guarantees you the right not to incriminate yourself. For this reason, you never have to cooperate by taking a Field Sobriety Test.