College Park Field Sobriety Tests
Field Sobriety Tests are a set of tests suggested by the NHTSA as the preeminent testing to show alcohol in a person’s system. When these tests are combined, the percentage, the probability that alcohol is present increases. The three tests that are considered to be the standardized three best tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test also known as “Follow the Pen,” the “Walk and Turn,” and the “One Legged Stand.” These tests come with clues where the higher a person scores, the more likely it is they may have alcohol in their system. The increased higher percentage of probability leads the officer to have cause to take the person into custody and ask them to submit to a breath test. If you have been charged with a DUI, a College Park DUI lawyer can help you understand the ramifications of the charges and mitigate the penalties.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
The HGN test is a test on tracking. A College Park police officer holds a pen twelve to fifteen inches away from the person’s face and asks them to track the pen with their eyes only and not moving their head. The person’s eyes involuntarily wiggle or jerk at a certain degree, forty-five degrees is a maximum deviation. The officer looks for sustained nystagmus and that the person’s eyes respond in a certain way when they are under the influence of alcohol. It suggests that it is good reason to continue testing.
However, a person may have astigmatism, poor vision, or dry contacts. If it is a very cool, dry night and the person gets out of a warm car, their eyes may dry out. The person is also generally standing on a roadway and when vehicles go by, noises come by and it is only normal and natural for human body to react. So, a person could involuntarily jerk their head or move their eyes.
It is not the best of tests when one considers that most are done at night, in the darkness and on busy streets or highways where there are plenty of other stimulus to cause an involuntary reaction while the test is being administered.
It doesn’t have the best of following in all the fifty states and other territories. There are some states that do not allow testimony from HGN because it is not as reliable as they once though in representing sobriety following a DUI stop.
The Walk and Turn test
The Walk and Turn test is termed as Divided Attention Test. Out of all the tests following a DUI in College Park, this one may be the most reliable. It is the best way to simulate the same type of thought and action process as when a person drives a vehicle.
For Walk and Turn, the person takes nine steps, turns counterclockwise, and comes back nine steps. The person is being tested on the number of steps they take, on the turn that is counterclockwise and not clockwise, and that the person is touching heel to toe. What police officers in College Park don’t say in their demonstration is that the person doesn’t have to touch heel to toe. There is about an inch to an inch and a half leeway in the steps.
They also generally tell the person to imagine a straight line. People will all too often imagine a very thin straight line instead of a wide straight line. The problem is that is a person can try to walk a tight rope making it much more difficult to walk. If one imagines walking on pieces of paper eight to ten straight across they will probably walk with a little bit more ease.
The test is designed to be failed because a person doesn’t normally walk heel to toe. The body isn’t designed that way. The legs aren’t designed that way. That is not the natural gait. The legs are on the side of the hips and not in front of them. People simply do not walk in that manner. A person is being asked to do something that is not consistent with how they would normally walk.
The One Legged Stand test
With the One Legged Stand, a person picks a leg and puts that one down. The other one is raised six inches off the ground. Officers tell the person to start counting by thousands, one thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc. The officer observes the person for a minimum of 30 seconds while they continue to count until the officer says to stop.
Unfortunately, people put their foot down or choose to do the test without disclosing that they have prior knee or back injury and that is an imposition on the individual trying to take that test. The first few seconds of the test are easy but as a person maintains their balance while keeping the leg up, that can be an irritant to a previous health issue with their body or knee. It can impede on a person’s ability to take the test well. Therefore the score is higher and is combined with the other scores. The officer believes that they have the right to take the person into custody to submit to a breath test.
Test Results at Trial in College Park
These tests have a substantial amount of weight at a DUI trials because they are endorsed and taught by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s manual to all officers. These are the federal tests to administer at a traffic stop. Some officers may add in counting backwards from forty-nine to twenty-two or saying the alphabet from D to R forwards or backwards. Sometimes the officer has the person touch their fingertip to their nose or their thumb to each tip of their finger. There are other tests that are available, but the trio of HGN, Walk and Turn, and One-Legged Stand are the tests that carry the greatest weight and judges know this very well.
An individual does not have to submit to any field sobriety tests in College Park.
Challenging Sobriety Test Results
An attorney can challenge the way the tests were administered, explained, and demonstrated. They can argue that their client was not on a clear or clean surface, on the side of a very busy, noisy road. The attorney can state that their client was put in the position to fail right off the bat. They either couldn’t hear or couldn’t perform the tests in a safe place. Those are very important facts to bring up in court.
There are very specific ways the tests must be administered, explained, instructed, and executed. If an officer doesn’t do it correctly, the test can be struck out. A lawyer can help you to better prove that the tests were administered incorrectly.