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Field Sobriety Testing in California DUI Cases

Ms. Gorelick is NHTSA certified in standardized DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. This is the same training that many police officers receive in the academy. When a police officer suspects a driver of DUI, more often than not he or she will ask the driver to perform one or more field sobriety test. These tests are standard procedure during a DUI arrest/investigation, as they help officers gauge a driver's level of intoxication. These tests were designed to test a driver's physical coordination, level of alertness, ability to follow instruction, and overall coherence. If a driver fails a field sobriety test, it's presumed that the driver is drunk or intoxicated, thereby giving the officer probable cause to conduct a DUI arrest.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

In California there is a wide variety of tests for officers to choose from, however, most police officers stick with the following three field sobriety tests:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
: The officer will position a small object such as a pen or finger several inches from the driver's face. The driver will then be instructed to follow the object's line of motion. The officer will be looking mainly for two things: whether or not the driver can follow the object's line of motion with his/her eyes, and if the driver's eyes twitch as the object moves to the outer corners of the eyes.  Nystagmus refers to the jerking of the eye, and is common in people who are drunk. If the eyes start twitching or jerking sooner than 45 degrees, then it is believed the driver is intoxicated. However, nystagmus is a medical condition that can affect people even when they are not drunk or intoxicated.

Walk & Turn Test:
The officer will instruct the driver to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn, and then repeat the same action in the opposite direction. The officer will be looking to see if the driver can follow directions and maintain balance.

One-Leg Stand Test:
The driver starts by standing with his/her feet together arms at the side. The officer will then instruct the driver to raise one leg approximately six inches off the ground while counting out loud. The officer will be looking for several things, including if the driver follows directions, loses count, raises his/her arms, or exhibits any sign that he/she cannot keep balance.

How Attorney Lynn Gorelick can help you if you took the field sobriety tests as part of your Alameda or Contra Costa County DUI arrest

If you have been arrested after a taking a field sobriety test, please do not hesitate in contacting the Gorelick Law Offices immediately. Not only are these tests designed for failure, but passing or failing is left entirely to the discretion of the arresting officer.  There is almost always extenuating circumstances that could reasonably cause a driver to fail, such as poor weather conditions, fatigue, footwear, road conditions, natural lack of balance, preexisting disabilities or injuries, etc. Furthermore, these tests are entirely optional. There is no law that states you must take these tests at the request of an officer. In fact, by not taking the test, you will prevent the officer from collecting more evidence to use against you in court.

Let Criminal and DUI Defense Attorney Lynn Gorelick, of the Gorelick Law Offices, Help.

Call Gorelick Law Offices at (510) 785-1444 or (925) 847-3006, and let Ms. Gorelick help you during this often uneasy, confusing, and frightening time! Trust an attorney with over 30 years of experience in the field of Criminal & DUI Defense - Lynn Gorelick.

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