Field Sobriety Test
Defending Rhode Island clients against Field Sobriety Tests
Many times when a person is pulled over and the officer is trying to determine whether a motorist is under the influence of alcohol of drugs the officer will conduct field sobriety tests.
Although there are three standardized field sobriety tests that are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration manual (NHTSA Manual), there are others tests that are used.
From the moment a motorist is pulled over an officer is trained to start conducting tests. These tests start as soon as the officer makes contact with the motorist. Some examples are:
- saying the alphabet from one letter to another letter
- This test is done by the officer asking the motorist to say, NOT SING, the alphabet from one letter, for example g, to another letter, for example q
- The motorist is asked not to sing the alphabet only to speak the alphabet.
- The officer is looking for the motorist to start and end at the correct letter.
- Counting backwards
- This test is done by the officer asking the motorist to count backwards from one number to another number.
- For example, from 90 to 72.
- The officer is looking for the correct backwards sequence and also that the motorist starts and stops at the correct spot.
- Touching finger to thumb
- This test is done by the officer asking the motorist to count but while counting to touch finger to thumb.
- Officer is looking at whether the motorist is able to do two things at once and also whether they are able to touch finger to thumb.
Our Rhode Island attorney can object to the validity of DUI tests taken at the scene
These tests, even thought they are not standardized, are often used by the officer. A seasoned DUI attorney will be able to file motions and make objections in order to try to suppress these tests from being testified to at trial.
There are three standardized field sobriety tests that are approved by NHSTA. Here are the three tests:
- horizontal gaze nystagmas test- here the officer asks the person to hold head still and follow a pen or light with just their eyes. The officer is looking to see whether the motorist can follow specific directions and also looking for horizontal nystagmas at a certain degree. Nystagmus is defined as rapid involuntary movement of the eye.
- Walk and turn test- here the officer instructs the motorist to wait an listen to directions and not start until told to do so. At that point, the motorist is instructed to take a series of nine steps heal to toe and then do a specific turn and take nine heal to toe steps back. The officer is looking to see whether motorist can do the test correctly and whether directions are followed.
- One legged stand test- here the officer asks the person to raise one foot slightly off the ground and count to s specific number, motorist is told not to place foot down, can not use arms and cannot hop. Here is the officer is looking to see whether motorist can complete the test and follow all directions.
Each of these standardized field sobriety tests have exact guidelines that must be followed by the officer. Any variation can provided unreliable results. There are a certain number of clues that the officer looks for.
The Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy knows these guidelines and the clues needed and will fight to get these tests suppressed. Attorney Stefanie Murphy has handled hundreds of DUI cases and will fight to keep out evidence that hurts the case.