Field Sobriety Tests

In the State of California, many drivers are under the impression that they must submit to tests of the motor skills abilities, also known as a “field sobriety test,” after being pulled over, but this is untrue. All field sobriety tests are voluntary, therefore you have the right to politely decline if asked to do so. If you have recently consented to a field sobriety test, you should contact an accomplished Los Angeles drunk driving defense lawyer who is skilled in the area of California DUI law.

The Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf have been helping individuals charged with drunk driving crimes for more than 40+ years. Mr. Wolf has years of experience, having prosecuted and defended thousands of people charged with drunk driving, DUI, license suspension, driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter crimes. Lawrence Wolf has been a pioneer in developing all forms of alternative sentencing such as house arrest and diversionary programs. He has established relationships with Judges and District Attorneys throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.

When a law enforcement officer pulls someone over for suspected drunk driving in Los Angeles, he or she may request that the driver perform any number of field sobriety tests, such as standing on one foot, the Rhomberg test, the walk and turn test, or the hand pat test. What so many people do not understand is that they have no legal obligation to perform any field sobriety test. In fact, in many situations the person who assesses these test results does not have the expertise to properly do so, which will most likely result in an unfavorable outcome for the suspected drunk driver.

Listed below are just a few standard field sobriety tests which police officers implement:

Stationary Balance Test – This is a test of the driver’s balance, and if the driver is unable to complete this test without error, the officer will most likely consider the driver to be under the influence. To perform this test, the driver will have to stand with their heels and toes touching, while they lean their head back and look upwards at the same time holding their arms out to the side for approximately 30 seconds.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test – This is a test which looks for jerkiness in the eyes, which law enforcement officers believe shows that the driver is intoxicated. The officer will stand in front of the driver and will point an object in the driver’s eyes, move the object, and observe the driver follow the object with their eyes moving (no movement of the head).

Divided Attention Tests – When pulling over a suspected drunk driver, a law enforcement agent will request that the driver perform tests to determine the driver’s ability to follow directions while at the same time performing a physical or mental exercise. For example, if a driver is unable to remain balanced while listening to instructions, the police officer will most likely consider the driver drunk.

There are many reasons why an individual may be unable to successfully complete a field sobriety test, all the while having had nothing to drink prior to the test. The driver’s physical attributes, being nervous, feeling tired, or being injured in some way, are all factors which may affect the outcome of a field sobriety test. Your legal rights will be aggressively defended when you hire a skilled DUI defense lawyer who understands the importance of interpreting field sobriety tests as well as the accuracy of the officer who administered the test.

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