One of the most common methods that police officers use for testing for DUI’s are the FST (Field Sobriety Test). Some of the most common FSTs are HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus), one-leg-stand, walk-and-turn, finger-to-nose, and counting backwards. Each test has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, they all share the same disadvantage of relying on basic physical abilities that not all people posses.
As it sounds, the suspect will stand on one leg. If there is any swaying or imbalance the suspect could be charged with DUI. The test may be inaccurate if the driver is overweight, affected by prescription drugs, has poor night vision or is wearing high heel shoes.
The HGN test is perhaps the most widely accepted and scientifically approved. The police officer will have the subject follow an object (such as a pen) while the officer checks for signs of intoxication, lack of smooth pursuit, deviation, etc. Prescription drugs and various medical conditions can also influence eye nystagmus.
The suspect will take 10 steps (heel to toe), then turn and repeat the 10 steps back. The officer will be checking to see if the driver is following directions properly and able to perform the physical actions without any tripping or swaying. Again, the test is making the assumption that the suspect does not have any physical condition that could impact the results.
To perform the finger-to-nose test, the driver will extend each arm and touch the tip of their nose with their index finger. Missing the tip of the nose may result in further testing or DUI charges. Counting backwards or reciting the alphabet could be complicated by the pressure of the situation, potentially nullifying any negative results.
Aside from the physical assumptions in FSTs, it is important that the suspect understands what the officer is requesting. If needed, the officer should demonstrate the task he is demanding you complete. This is particularly important if there are any language barriers.
A DUI charge does not equal a DUI conviction. At Andrews & Sanders Law Offices our attorneys are knowledgeable and prepared when it comes to dealing with FST. Call us and let us help you.