Field Sobriety Tests
How can an officer tell if a driver is drunk?
Although police officers can make a legal DUI stop if a person is driving
erratically, they cannot make a legal arrest without adequate grounds.
In other words, they must have solid evidence to back up their suspicion
that the motorist was
driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One way to determine whether or not a person is intoxicated
is to subject them to a preliminary breathalyzer test (handheld). Another
way is to have them take one or more field sobriety tests.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized
three different field sobriety tests to ensure that all suspected motorists
are evaluated equally. If these tests are improperly administered by the
arresting officer, then you and your Kansas City DUI attorney may be able
to challenge whether the test results are valid or admissible in court.
These tests are as follows:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
This test is not admissible in many states including Kansas because officers
lack the medical background to administer or interpret the test. The test
is admissible in Missouri, but it is not very reliable and we recommend
that you refuse to do this test. The theory behind the test is that excessive
alcohol consumption can cause a person's eyes to track unevenly or
twitch when they look too far to the left or right. A police officer will
conduct the HGN test by having the driver hold their head still in a forward-facing
position while their eyes follow an object, such as the officer's
pen or finger, as it passes from side to side in front of their face.
If the driver's eyes twitch or spasm, then the officer will often
fail the driver. Unfortunately, many things including a common cold can
cause someone's eyes to twitch during this test. Hire an experienced
Kansas City DUI attorney to fight the results of this inherently inaccurate test.
Walk and Turn (WAT)
The suspected drunk driver will be required to "walk the line"
with their arms at their sides while counting their steps out loud, turn,
and repeat the action. The standardized test calls for nine steps in each
direction. If the suspect loses their balance, raises their arms, steps
off the line, loses balance during the turn, fails to touch heel to toe,
and / or has trouble following directions, then the officer will report
this as a fail on the Walk and Turn test. Only two mistakes are required
to fail the test. This test is only considered 68% accurate, thus is incorrect
about 1/3 of the time. KC DUI Attorney Paul Burmaster recommends that
you do not do this test. It is not against the law to refuse these tests
in Kansas or Missouri.
One-Leg Stand (OLS)
This test requires the driver to stand on one leg with their arms down
at their sides while counting out loud. The test should be timed for 30
seconds. If the driver loses their balance, puts their foot down, hops,
or sways, then the officer will fail them on the One Leg Stand test. This
test is only 65% accurate according to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration -- and so it, again, in wrong about 1/3 of the time. It's
best to refuse this test. Why take such an imperfect test that expects
you to perform perfectly?
Legal Representation in Kansas City, MO and Overland Park, KS
Failure of any of the three standardized tests will be used to justify
a DUI arrest. If you've been charged with DUI, Attorney Paul Burmaster
can fight to prove that your test results were flawed. Medical conditions,
sports injuries, fatigue, fear, and other factors including the inherent
flaws in the tests can affect your ability to pass.
Contact our firm today to find out how we can fight your charges and prevent you from facing the
penalties of a DUI conviction.