When pulled over for a DUI in San Diego, it is very common for an officer to ask someone to do field sobriety tests. These tests can be very difficult even if sober, and the officer will always say that in some way or another the participant failed. Only the best criminal lawyers in San Diego are able to challenge these tests by showing their knowledge of them and showing how the officers administered them wrong. Below is a list of the tests and an explanation of each.
The nystagmus test, or most commonly known to the general public as the eye test is one of the most common field sobriety tests. The problem with this test is that the officers are known to make a large amount of mistakes while administering the test.
The premise of the test is to have the individual follow either a pen or the officer’s finger across back and forth. The officer is looking for a couple things. 1) tracking of the eyes 2) convergence and 3) whether or not there is nystagmus during the test. Nystagmus means that there is somewhat of a shaking in the actual eyes, as they are moving. Studies have shown at a .05 nystagmus can be present and that at this point the eyes show shaking as they move back and forth.
What should be known is that there are a lot of other things that can cause nystagmus. There is a small percentage of the population, around 10%, that have nystagmus naturally occurring at birth. Wind, dust or excessive light can also cause nystagmus and studies have shown that it can present itself when the test is not administered correctly. There is a long list of requirements for this test and almost every single time we can see errors that the officers made. Don’t just be labeled as someone who failed this test, hire San Diego Criminal Lawyer Alex Ozols and he will fight to show that it was the officers making the mistakes, not you.
Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test is another common test given by officers and it is one that tests someone’s balance while they are believed to be under the influence. The walk and turn test consists of an individual walking 9 steps forward then they do a turn or pivot and walk 9 steps back. Each step needs to be directly behind the heel touching the foot in front of it and each step needs to be done on a line. The officers will deduct points for not touching heel to toe, for stepping off the line, for not having the right amount of steps and for using one’s arms to balance.
What many people don’t know about this test is that the “line” that is used is most often an imaginary line that was made up by the officer. The officer will tell you to that they are creating an imaginary line in front of you. They will then stand 10-20 feet back and they will observe you do the test. It is very common for them to say that the individual stepped off the line. One of the first questions that Ozols Law Firm will ask an officer explaining this test is “was it a real line or an imaginary line”. When the officer responds that it was an imaginary line, it is followed up by asking them how it is possible that someone can step off an imaginary line. When jurors hear this, they start to distrust the officer and understand that the individual may not have made the errors that were claimed on this test.
The Rhomberg test, also known as the stand and balance test, is one where the officers are trying to see whether or not alcohol has caused mental impairment in the individual. In this test the individual is instructed to stand with their hands at their sides and count to 30. When they are done counting to 30 they are instructed to look at the officer.
Alcohol is a depressant, so the theory here is that if someone is under the influence, they will be counting to themselves much slower than the officer is counting. However, the Rhomberg test is actually a test that favors the defense. This is one test that cannot be manipulated by the officer and generally when someone is pulled over for a DUI in San Diego, they are very close to a 0.08 or they are above a 0.08 but it has not impaired them and it has not effected their driving. On this test if you are within plus or minus 5 seconds, it is considered to be done perfectly with no showing of impairment.
Other common tests that can be given in certain circumstances include the one leg stand test, the alphabet test, the finger count test, and the count test.
At Ozols Law Firm we use our expertise and knowledge as criminal attorneys to rip apart the officer’s statements. The goal is to show that 1) the officer did not administer the test properly 2) the officer exaggerated the results and 3) on a lot of these tests, even someone who had no alcohol in their system would not have passed this test up to the standard that the officer was expecting.
Don’t sell yourself short and don’t just accept these tests at face value. It is important you hire an attorney who knows what they are doing and who is recognized all throughout the United States. If you have been arrested for a DUI, call today to speak directly to an attorney.