Monday, December 15, 2014

What are the three standardized field sobriety tests administered in a DUI investigation

Have you ever wondered what the three standardized field sobriety tests are in a DUI investigation?  Well today is your lucky day.  DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba and answer this question and offer a basic overview in layman's terms of how they are administered and what the police officers look for during their DUI investigation.

The standardized field sobriety tests are a battery of three tests that have been standardized by the National Highway Safety Administration.  Back in the day this organization did a few studies based on these tests and determined they were the most reliable.  The reason the term "standardized" is used is because the purpose of these tests is to be administered the same way every time.  Meaning a DUI police officer administering this test in Seattle will be administering it the same way a DUI officer would be Florida.  

So what are the tests:

The first test administered is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  If you have ever seen this test in the movies or on the side of the road it is the "eye" test.  What the Officers are looking for his nystagmus.  Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eyeball as it moves side to side following an object.  It kind of looks like a marble rolling across sand paper.  It bounces.  The officers are trained to look for a total of 6 clues, 3 in each eye.  First they look to see whether the jerking occurs, secondly whether it occurs at the furthest the eye can look to the side, and lastly whether the jerking occurs prior to a 45 degree angle.  

The second test generally administered is the walk and turn test.  This test is exactly how it sounds.  The officers look for a total of eight clues during this test.  Whether the subject loses balance in the instruction position, starts too soon, misses heel to toe, stops walking, raises arms, steps offline, fails to take the 9 mandatory steps, and fails to make the correct turn between the first nine steps and the second nine steps.

The third test administered is call the one leg stand.  And like the walk and turn test this test is exactly how it sounds.  The Officer has the subject stand on one leg, keep their arms to the side, count out loud until they are told to stop, and stare at their raised foot which is 6 inches off the ground.  The things they look for are raising the arms, putting foot down, hopping, swaying side to side.  

So there you have it.  Those are the magical standardized field sobriety tests.  Please keep in mind this is simply a blog and not a manual or thesis.  I could probably write a few pages on each test, but thats not what I wanted to do.  

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  He is rated a perfect 10 out of 10 by, and named one of the best Seattle DUI lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine. 

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