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Field Sobriety Test Results and Common Defense Strategies

April 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 80

When a person is pulled over for suspected drunken driving, it is likely that the police officer will have had probable cause to engage in this action. The police officer will ask the driver to provide a valid driver's license and registration of the vehicle that they are currently driving. The driver will then be asked to step out of the vehicle to perform any number of routine sobriety tests. These tests can include the subjective testing matters of the Walk-and-Turn test, One-Leg-Stand test, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. The following briefly explains each of these field sobriety tests:

The Walk-and-Turn (WAT) test involves the driver taking nine steps heel-to-toe in one direction, turning around on one foot, and walking nine steps in the same manner back to the point of origin. During this time, the officer will be examining the body language of the driver to determine if alcohol has been consumed prior to the test. The officer will look for signs of poor balance by actions such as waving of the arms, hopping, swaying, or stopping during the test. If a driver exhibits these actions, the officer will believe that the driver is intoxicated.

The One-Leg-Stand test requires the driver to stand on one leg for thirty seconds without putting the foot down or falling. Even for a sober individual, this can be a difficult task to accomplish. The officer will again look for signs of poor balance to determine if the individual is intoxicated.

Lastly, a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test can be used to determine if a driver is intoxicated by testing the involuntary movement of a driver's eyeball. By taking a pen, flashlight, or finger, the officer will move the object from one side of a driver's face to the other, looking for a jerking movement in the eye. If the officer sees that this movement is present, he or she will assume that the driver is drunk.

Unfortunately, these sobriety tests are some of the more subjective tests that an officer can use to determine intoxication of a driver. A large number of reasons may lead to the failure of these tests, including fatigue, poor balance, illness and other medical conditions, or the feeling of nervousness. A driver who is pulled over for suspected drunk driving will arguably be extremely nervous, especially knowing that their entire future is on the line. As a result, the driver may make mistakes during a subjective test such as this. Fear not, however, as there are many defense strategies in which you can employ to defend yourself from facing lifelong criminal consequences.

What are the most common defenses available for a driver who has been wrongfully charged with DUI? One of the most important actions you can take if you have been charged with drunken driving is to exercise your Fifth Amendment rights - the right to protect yourself from self-incrimination. Don't give any information to the arresting officers until you have spoken with your attorney. A thorough investigation into the charges and the results of your field sobriety test must be conducted to develop a unique defense strategy. Challenging the results of your field sobriety test must be done so in an urgent manner, as the prosecution will be working just as quickly to effectively find any evidence they can against your case.

In addition to challenging the validity of the field sobriety test results, the attorney you choose to work with will question the lawfulness of the original police stop. Did the police officer have probable cause to stop your vehicle? Did the police officer follow protocol when administering any type of sobriety test, including the field sobriety test or breath test at the scene of the stop? Your attorney will interview the officer and determine whether the evidence can stand up in court. If you believe that you were arrested due to unlawful reasons, the lawyer that you choose to work with will work day in and day out to develop defense strategies for your case. Whether you challenge the field sobriety test results by proving that the outcome was due to an officer's personal opinion or you use video surveillance evidence from the police car during the test, it is very important to begin working on this defense immediately.

Fagan, Fagan & Davis is a premier criminal defense law firm that serves the Chicago, Illinois area. With over 100 years of combined legal experience and many high achievements within the community, this law firm truly understands the difficult nature of facing criminal charges. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, the possession of drugs, fraud, theft, a violent crime, or any other offense in the area, it is very important for you to talk to an attorney right away about the criminal consequences you could be facing. Without an attorney for your case, it will be difficult to find an effective defense strategy. However, with the legal team from this firm, you can rest assured knowing that your case is in good hands. Contact a Chicago criminal lawyer at the office today to begin working on the defense of your criminal charges!

Source: EzineArticles
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