When pulling over a person on suspicion of drunk driving, there are several different preliminary tests that a law enforcement officer will run the subject through. These are commonly referred to as DUI testing and can involve everything from breath and blood tests to the more subjective forms of field sobriety tests. There are not as formal as the other utilized tests, however, unfortunately a Las Vegas field sobriety testing lawyer explains these play a huge role in the end result of any given DUI-related case.
So does a “failed” test automatically mean a conviction? Actually, not at all. Field sobriety tests are notoriously prone to error and have been shown over the years to be subjective at best. There is nothing concrete about these tests and they can often be left open to the prejudice and bias of the officer administering the test. By hiring a Las Vegas field sobriety testing attorney, you will be able to take the necessary steps towards defending and protecting your legal rights.
Overview of the Three Main Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognized that field sobriety tests were useful but were unregulated for a long time. Prior to the NHTSA formalizing and organizing the proper administration of these tests, there simply was no way for these tests to be fully trusted.
For this reason, the NHTSA decided to create guidelines for these tests to help make them more accurate – outlining the ways that they need to be administered, the instructions that need to be given and the different red flags that should alert a police officer that the subject is likely under the influence of either alcohol and/or drugs.
The three tests that have been approved by the NHTSA include the following:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
The HGN is a test that involves a law enforcement officer holding an object, usually the tip of a pen, about six inches away from the face of the subject. They will then move it back and forth and track the movement of the subject’s eyes. If they are unable to follow the motion smoothly without “jerking” they could be accused of being intoxicated. This is due to the condition known as nystagmus, which is a scientific condition that causes the eye to jerk laterally. Alcohol is believed to aggravate this condition.
One-Leg Stand (OLS)
The OLS is a test that is considered to divide the attention of the subject. This simply means that the subject will be required to listen to directions at the same time that they are required to perform the set actions. In the OLS, this means that the subject will stand on one leg with the other foot raised six inches while counting out loud using thousands. Any sign of imbalance or struggling to keep balance, such as moving arms or putting the foot down, will be used against the subject as evidence of intoxication.
Another type of “divided attention” test, the WAT requires a defendant to walk in a straight line with heal to toe. After nine steps, they must pivot and return. Any incorrect motion, such as stepping off of the line, not completing the full nine steps or not starting at the proper time will be seen as red flags of intoxication.
Challenging the Results
While these are more accurate than their predecessors these are by no means a flawless form of testing. There are extenuating factors that can play a large role in any given field sobriety test. For example, should a person be exceedingly nervous, it can appear as if they were intoxicated and failed the test; however, they were just nervous! Other medical conditions can come into play which can make a perfectly sober person to appear as if they failed.
The worst part is that the recording of the test will likely only cement the opinion formulated by the law enforcement officer. Other factors that can play into a field sobriety test include the prejudice of the law enforcement officer or an improper training of the officer who was administering the test.
Charged with drunk driving in Las Vegas?
If you have been criminally accused of driving while intoxicated, you need an experienced Las Vegas criminal lawyer on your side that you can trust. At De Castroverde Law Group, we have proven time and time again that we can be trusted with even the most complex of situations. As a family-run law firm, we strongly believe in providing trustworthy legal representation when it is needed most.
A Las Vegas field sobriety testing lawyer will fight tooth and nail to handle a wide variety of criminal cases throughout the Las Vegas, NV area – no matter whether they refer to a drug crime or a DUI. We encourage you to consult with our legal team as soon as possible if you believe that you are in legal trouble. We know the law inside and out and will fight to provide you with a comprehensive defense that is tailored to your unique situation.
Contact De Castroverde Law Group at (702) 222-9999 to learn how an experienced Las Vegas field sobriety testing lawyer can fight your DUI!