Chester County DUI Lawyer Michelle Fioravanti

Law Offices of

Michelle A. Fioravanti,

P.C.

Call Us Today at

484-876-1543

Field Sobriety Tests

If you were stopped by the police for a DUI, you most likely were asked to take field sobriety tests before being taken into custody. These tests are used by the police to see if there is enough probable cause or reasonable suspicion for a DUI arrest, and will be used as evidence to support a DUI conviction. There are two types of DUI field sobriety tests: standardized field sobriety tests and non-standardized field sobriety tests. In many cases the police do not give the field sobriety tests in full compliance with NHTSA guidelines or even their own training manuals.

Field Sobriety Tests for DUIs in Chester, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Delaware, Lancaster, Berks and Bucks County Pennsylvania

Call the Law Offices of Michelle A. Fioravanti at 484-876-1543 or contact us to discuss if your field sobriety tests were properly administered and if you were given the right directions for the tests, and the challenges that can be raised at a DUI trial if the police did not follow the proper procedure.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests for Pennsylvania DUIs

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has 3 types of standardized field sobriety tests:

  1. The walk and turn test (WAT)
  2. The one leg stand test (OLS)
  3. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN).

The NHTSA determined these tests, if administered properly, could accurately predict if a person is DUI to the extent they cannot safely drive.

The Walk and Turn Test (WAT)

Montgomery County Field Sobriety Test LawyerThe NHTSA instructions for the walk and turn test for a person believed to be DUI is to have the driver take nine steps heel to toe along a straight line. The driver then must turn on one foot and take nine steps heel to toe in the opposite direction. The police officer that administers the test closely watches to make sure you precisely followed the directions.

It is important to let your DUI lawyer know if you have an illness, injury, disability or physical condition that would prevent you from successfully completing the test, the type of shoes you were wearing when stopped for the DUI (this is a common problem for women that may have been wearing high heels) and whether you were asked to take the test on loose gravel, on an uneven surface, near traffic or without the benefit of a painted line.

The One Leg Stand Test (OLS)

The NHTSA instructions for the one leg stand test for a person believed to be DUI is to have the driver stand with one foot approximately six inches off the groundChester County Field Sobriety Test Lawyer and count one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three, etc., until told to put the foot down by the police after 30 seconds.

As in the walk and turn test above, it is important to let your DUI lawyer know if you have an illness, injury, disability or physical condition that would prevent you from successfully completing the test, the type of shoes you were wearing when stopped for the DUI (this is a common problem for women that may have been wearing high heels) and whether you were asked to take the test on loose gravel, on an uneven surface, near traffic or some other place that would make it difficult to keep your balance.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is designed to measure whether the eyes follow a moving object in a smooth steady fashion, which indicates sobriety, or in a jerking irregular fashion, which indicates intoxication. During this test a person believed to be DUI is to keep their head still and follow an object with his eyes, usually the officer’s pen or finger.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is highly unreliable and deemed not admissible as evidence in a DUI trial in Pennsylvania. The police may, however, use the horizontal gaze nystagmus test as probable cause for requesting further testing with more reliable results.

Non-standardized Field Sobriety Tests for Pennsylvania DUIs

The non-standardized field sobriety tests, although not approved by NHTSA, are routinely admitted as evidence in a DUI trial.

The non-standardized field sobriety tests most frequently given by police at DUI stops are:

  1. The finger to nose test
  2. The ABC test
  3. The counting backward test
  4. The Romberg balance test.

Because these tests are approved by NHTSA, they should carry less weight in a Pennsylvania DUI trial, and may be more susceptible to challenge.

Like the standardized field sobriety tests, it is important to let your DUI lawyer know if you have an illness, injury, disability or physical condition that would prevent you from successfully completing the test, the type of shoes you were wearing when stopped for the DUI, and whether you were asked to take the test on loose gravel, on an uneven surface, near traffic or some other place that would make it difficult to keep your balance.

Portable Breath Test (PBT)

The portable breath test may be used by police in a DUI stop to determine if there is sufficient cause to request more reliable chemical testing. The test is given by having a person suspected of being DUI blow into a handheld device. The results from this test normally are only used to obtain probable cause to request more reliable the testing such as a blood test at the hospital or breath tests at the barracks or police station. You can read more about Blood and Breath Tests here.

The only way to know if the police properly administered the field sobriety tests is to make an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Michelle A. Fioravanti at 484-876-1543 or contact us for a free initial consultation to learn more about field sobriety tests. As your Pennsylvania DUI criminal defense lawyer, we will provide experienced and aggressive representation you can trust. Your DUI case is important, and it will receive the personal attention it deserves.

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