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Orange County Drunk Driving

Orange County DUI Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety TestsThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), a series of tests specifically designed to assess a person’s ability to perform certain tasks that are performed upon a DUI suspect by a law enforcement officer. These tests include; the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk-and-turn test (WAT) and the one-leg stand (OLS) test. Most Orange County law enforcement agencies have officers trained to administer these tests however, studies show many offices often give improper instructions for these tests therefore invalidating there results.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is generally the first field sobriety test given by an Orange County law enforcement officer. The individual is asked to follow a moving object, such as a tip of a pen, finger or even a flashlight, with the eyes from side to side. The officer will observe the eyes tacking the object and will look for any noticeable eye jerks that occur between 0- 45 degrees from center.

The walk and turn test requires that the DUI suspect take nine steps, heel-to-toe, while walking a straight line. The ability to follow instructions while performing this task is evaluated. Any observed inability to perform these actions may be cause enough for the officer to administer chemical testing.

The one-leg stand requires standing on one foot only, while counting out loud for 30 seconds. Putting a foot down before being instructed to do so, waving arms for balance, hopping or swaying could render a failed test result.

Essentially, field sobriety tests or FST’s are screening tests that only detect impairment, and must be followed by some other test for measuring blood alcohol content. The walk and turn and the one-leg stand tests can be affected by factors such as prescription medications, orthopedic leg and back diseases, pain in the joints or ankles and arthritis, age of the DUI suspect, all of which could cause false, failed field sobriety test results. Conditions under which field sobriety tests are given should also be considered, such as weather conditions and conditions of roadway or area where the tests are being performed.

An experienced Orange County DUI lawyer will explore any and all of these factors when preparing a DUI defense case. Some Orange County DUI Attorneys are actually qualified to administer SFST’s by NHTSA giving those DUI attorneys an advantage when cross examining an Orange County DUI Law Enforcement Officer.

In Orange County, California, upon failing one or more of the Field Sobriety tests, the arresting law enforcement officer may then request that a DUI suspect take a breath alcohol test or blood test. Refusal to take a breath or blood test in Orange County, California can mean a one year driver’s license suspension or revocation and can increase from there.

More Information:

The 10 Day Rule
BAC Levels
License Suspension
What to ask a DUI lawyer
The DUI process is an informational website provided by a top Orange County DUI lawyer to help those charged with drunk driving in these Orange County cities: Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Surfside, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda.