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Field Sobriety Tests

Westchester DWI Attorney Explains Field Sobriety Testing

Anyone who has travelled through an airport has passed through the metal detectors at the security checkpoint. These detectors are used to screen passengers and determine whether any of them are carrying weapons such as knives or guns. It is common, however, for the machine to go off when a passenger walks through with a belt, jewelry or other type of metal. In other words, not everyone who sets off the metal detector is guilty of attempting to carry a deadly weapon onto an airplane. The same is true of the standardized field sobriety tests which are used by law enforcement agencies nationwide to determine whether a driving while intoxicated (DWI) suspect is ability impaired.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests do not test for intoxication; they test a driver's ability to perform feats of physical coordination. Officers will ask a suspect to perform this test as a way to demonstrate that someone who cannot successfully carry out the steps involved in the test lacks the coordination necessary to drive. The tests can include:

One-Leg Stand (OLS)

The suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches above the ground while counting for approximately 30 seconds. Swaying, using the arms to maintain balance, hopping or putting the foot down before instructed to do so by the officer are all considered to be indicators of intoxication.

Walk-and-Turn (WAT)

Suspect is required to take nine steps in a straight line, heel-to-toe, followed by turning on one foot and returning in the same manner. Among the indicators of impairment are failure to maintain balance, starting to walk before instructed to do so, stepping off the straight line, and using the arms to balance.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

The officer moves a pen or small flashlight back and forth in front of the suspect's eyes, while watching for inability to smoothly track the object with the eyes, distinct jerking of the eyes at the extreme sides of the movement, and onset of jerking within 45 degrees of the center.

Challenging Field Sobriety Tests

Even though these various tests have been evaluated and determined to be more effective than random tests implemented by police officers, they are still highly subjective. The evidence gathered in these tests is often open to interpretation and can be fought with the assistance of a skilled representative. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that developed the tests, admits that the tests have a combined accuracy rate of only 91 percent as of 1998.

Choose a Westchester DWI Lawyer with a 100% Success Rate

Attorney Robert Schuster has never lost a DWI trial. He can help you fight your DWI. It is often possible to challenge and / or invalidate the test results by subpoenaing the footage from the police car dashboard video camera, which provides objective evidence regarding the circumstances of the test. Similarly, an experienced Westchester criminal defense lawyer can challenge the test evidence by aggressively cross examining the police officer in court to expose a lack of understanding and training in the test procedures, or to expose evidence that invalidates the methods by which a test was administered.

The Law Offices of Robert Schuster can provide the DUI defense that you need. Mr. Schuster has never lost a DWI trial, and he has been recognized as a leader among his peers in the New York legal community. His accolades include being named as one of the top 100 DWI attorneys in New York by the NAFDD and being named as a Top 10 DWI Lawyer in New York by the American Institute of DWI Attorneys. Attorney Schuster has proven his ability to get results.


Contact The Law Offices of Robert Schuster for more info and to get started on your defense.