San Diego DUI Attorney
Most importantly, and many times perhaps most damaging to your defense against DUI charges, will be the officer’s testimony to your performance on field sobriety tests, or FSTs. Though many more are routinely performed, there are only three FSTs that are recognized by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA): The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg-Stand.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
When conducting the HGN test, the officer slowly moves an object, most likely a pen, from the center line of vision to the extent of each peripheral side, and back to center. The officer is looking for whether the driver follows the object smoothly throughout the test or if their eyes jerk or flutter abnormally as the object gets closer to each peripheral. If the individual does not follow the object smoothly, is noticeably jerking abnormally, or if the eyes begins to jerk when it is within 45 degrees of center, rather than closer to the peripheral, the officer will automatically presume that the individual has a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
In the Walk-and-Turn test, the driver is asked to place one foot in front of the other, heal-to-toe, walk 9 steps, arms straight out, turn around at the end of the nine steps and walk back in the same path. The individual will fail the test and be presumed to have a BAC of 0.08% or higher if any two of the following occur:
- Cannot keep balance while listening to instructions
- Stops while walking to regain balance
- Beginning before instruction are finished
- Steps off the line
- Using arms to balance
- Taking an incorrect number of steps
- Not walking heel-to-toe throughout
- Stopping for any reason
Finally, in the One-Leg-Stand test, the driver is asked to stand with one foot approximately 6 inches off the ground and count aloud in thousands until the officer tells them to put their foot down after 30 seconds. The individual may not sway, use their arms to balance, hop, or put their foot down for any reason during this time. If they do any two of these actions, the officer may once again presume that they have a BAC of 0.08% or greater.
Fight Your Field Sobriety Test Results
FST’s are designed for you to fail. The officers themselves cannot likely pass them when sober. The law does not require you to perform them, though the officer will likely pressure you into feeling as if you must. Your chances of “passing” them are slim to none and they are only used in an attempt to prove guilt under California Vehicle Code 23152(a). Any other test such as being asked to say the alphabet backwards, or standing with both feet together, head back, eyes closed, and touching your nose with each index finger, are impossible for some people to perform.
If you are ever asked to perform a FST, respectfully decline to do so. If you have been arrested and charged under California Vehicle Code 23152(a) and you did perform one of these tests, or one like it, only in the rarest of cases will the officer report an individual performed well. However, the right San Diego DUI attorney with enough trial experience will provide sufficient expert witness testimony backed by reliable scientific research to show that even the NHTSA’s most favored three test are faulty and will produce “false positive” clues of impairment, even for a sober individual. Thus, absent any other evidence to show impairment in driving, you may have a very good defense in either reducing a charge under California Vehicle Code 23152 (a), or possibly having the charge dismissed altogether.
Hire a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer for Your Case
Attorney Marc S. Kohnen is an experienced defense attorney for DUI in San Diego and has successfully represented many clients in DUI cases. He knows how to dispute the findings of a field sobriety test and other DUI evidence that the prosecution will attempt to utilize when seeking a guilty verdict. Invalidating and suppressing testing evidence can result in a reduction in charges or even a case dismissal. It is one of several DUI defense strategies the firm uses when defending clients charged with drunk driving.
If you have been arrested for DUI, retaining the services of a proven litigator can have a strong impact on the outcome of your case. The firm provides aggressive representation and will fight hard to prevent a conviction. Contact the firm for tireless advocacy and smart counsel if you are facing DUI charges.