Field Sobriety Tests
When police officers have a suspicion that a driver may be intoxicated, they usually ask the driver to step out of his vehicle and perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests. Police utilize the field sobriety tests to make a determination as to whether or not there is probable cause to arrest someone for DWI. Police officers use these tests to build a case against someone the officer suspects is intoxicated.
If you have been arrested for DWI, hire an attorney who knows these standardized field sobriety tests backwards and forwards. Neil Pask has been trained to perform field sobriety tests by the same instructors who train law enforcement. He knows exactly what the police are looking for when they administer these tests, and he knows how to cross examine police officers when they fail to perform these tests as specified in their training.
Types Of Field Sobriety Tests In Texas
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): The officer holds a stimulus 12 to 15 inches away from the suspects head and asks the individual to follow the stimulus with his eyes. The officer moves the stimulus from side to side and evaluates whether or not the individual has nystagmus, or visible jerking of the eye, at several different points on the test. There are a total of 6 clues the officer is looking for in this test, 3 in each eye. If the officer observes 4 or more, this test indicates that the officer has enough probable cause to arrest the suspect. The clues that the officer looks for are:
- The lack of Smooth Pursuit. If the eyes jerk or bounce as the officer moves the stimulus from side to side.
- Distinct and Sustained Nystagmus at Maximum Deviation. When nystagmus is present in the eye at maximum deviation, then this clue is sustained.
- Onset of Nystagmus prior to 45 Degrees. If they eye is first seen jerking prior to 45 degrees then this clue is counted.
Walk and Turn: This tests is generally what is known as the “walk the line” test. The officer asks the subject to take nine heel to toe steps down the line with his hands at his side, turn around, and take nine heel to toe steps back down the line. The officer looks for 8 different “clues” to make a determination as whether a person is intoxicated. Of course, the officer doesn’t tell the person being evaluated what “clues” he is looking for. The officer is grading the suspect on 8 different clues of intoxication. The officer’s manual indicates that if an individual has 2 or more of these clues of intoxication, then the officer has cause to arrest the individual. The clues are:
- Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions
- Starts before the instructions are finished
- Stops while walking
- Does not touch heel-to-toe
- Steps off the line
- Uses arms for balance
- Improper Turn
- Incorrect number of steps
One Leg Stand: The person is ordered to raise one foot 6 inches off the ground in front of them and hold it there for 30 seconds. The officer looks to see if the individual places their foot on the ground, whether the person hops, whether he uses his arms for balance, and whether the person sways. Of course, if you have ever tried this test, it’s hard to do even if you’ve had nothing to drink. There are 4 clues on this test. If the officer observes 2 or more of these clues, the field sobriety testing manual states the officer has observed enough clues to make an arrest. The clues are as follows:
- The suspect sways while balancing
- Uses arms for balance
- Puts foot down
Neil Pask knows how these tests should be administered. At best, they only give a police officer probable cause to believe someone is intoxicated. He knows all the statistics behind the tests and knows how to effectively cross examine the police officer who administers them.