When an individual is pulled over and an officer suspects intoxication, a field sobriety test (developed as a result of research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) can be conducted. These physical and mental tests are designed to reveal sobriety. The standard tests can include: the one-leg stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. In the one leg stand, a suspect has to stand with one foot six inches off the ground while counting aloud ("one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three, etc.). In order to judge impairment, the officer looks for swaying, using arms to balance, hopping, and putting the foot down.
The walk and turn involves the suspect taking nine steps, heel to toe, in a straight line. Following this, the individual must turn and perform the same exercise in the opposite direction. The officer looks for balance, compliance with instructions, stopping while walking, not touching heel to toe, stepping off the line, using arms to balance, making improper turns, and incorrect number of steps.
The HGN testing involves the involuntary jerking of the eye that normally occurs when an eye is rotated at high peripheral angles. However, when a person is drunk, he can have a hard time tracking an object visually. In a HGN test, an officer watches a suspect's eyes as he follows a moving object visually (a flashlight, person, etc.). The officer looks to see if the suspect can follow a moving object smoothly, if jerking is different, and if the angle of jerking is within 45 degrees of the center. According to the NHTSA, this test properly classifies 88% of drunk suspects. If you failed the field sobriety tests, speak with a Rancho Cucamonga DUI attorney today and fight your charges.
Officers can also issue other tests, however, such as standing with feet together and head tipped backwards or counting the number of fingers the officer holds up. In some states, refusing to comply with these tests can result in an automatic revocation of your license. Failing these tests can lead to chemical testing including breath & blood tests. These tests are controversial and debated hotly in court.