Field Sobriety Tests in Pennsylvania
Team Up With a Scranton DUI Attorney
When law enforcement suspects that a person is driving under the influence
they often conduct field sobriety tests. These tests are meant to help
determine a driver's impairment level. If you are suspected of driving
under the influence, you may be asked to perform these roadside field
sobriety tests. This is a series of tests to challenge your coordination
as well as your ability to think cognitively. If you perform inadequately,
this could serve as probable cause for an arrest. In this case, you may
then be asked to perform a chemical test in order to determine your Blood
Alcohol Content (BAC). Have you been arrested for a
DUI after your performance on field sobriety tests? Rogan Law can help you
build a strong defense and fight against the results.
Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved
three standard field sobriety tests to be used. Pennsylvania uses these
tests when attempting to determine the impairment level of drivers. The
One- Leg Stand Test
The instructions for this test involves standing while holding one foot
about six inches above the ground while keeping your leg straight. While
doing this, you are also instructed to count (one thousand and one, one
thousand and two, etc…) until you reach about 30 seconds and the
officer instructs you to lower your foot. The point of this test is to
challenge your mental and physical abilities at the same time. During
your performance, the officer will be looking for signs of impairment
such as using arms for balance, placing your foot on the ground, etc.
This test is not completely reliable; however, and there are defenses
that you can make. If you are wearing inadequate shoes for the task, if
the ground was uneven or if there was loose gravel, the results may be invalid.
Walk and Turn Test
This test involves walking on a straight line, either imaginary or visible,
for nine steps. The steps need to be heel-to-toe and then you will make
a pivot turn and take nine steps back to the beginning. This is another
way to test a suspect's ability to divide their attention between
physical and mental tasks. While you are performing the test, the officer
will look for signs of imbalance and impairment including:
- Using arms for balance
- Walking off the line
- Not walking heel-to-toe
- Taking more than nine steps
The walk and turn test is also not completely reliable. There are outside
factors that can affect your performance and ability to walk on a line.
If you have any type of injury or disability, you could fight against
the probable cause. Also, if you are in improper shoes, on uneven ground
or do not have a painted line, the chances of success on the test are tainted.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
This test is meant to measure the jerking fashion of a suspect's eyes.
If it is irregular, the suspect is thought to be intoxicated. Nystagmus
is the term for the involuntary jerking of the eye and while the officer
moves a stimulus, they will be watching the activity of the eyes as the
suspects follows the stimulus. If jerking occurs before 45 degrees that
is supposed to be a sign of impairment. As with all the other tests, this
is also not always reliable. There are other factors that can affect the
jerking of the eye other than intoxication.
Rogan Law Can Help in Your DUI Case!
Need a lawyer for a DUI case in Scranton, PA? Seek help from an experienced
DUI lawyer who has defended against the results of field sobriety tests
in the past. Our firm has more than two decades of experience assisting
clients in their criminal and DUI cases.
Contact Rogan Law today to team up with one of our Scranton criminal defense lawyers.