Criminal Defense Attorney Fairfax, VA
There are a lot of mixed feelings associated with field sobriety tests, FST. Some people regard them as a legitimate way to keep drunk drivers off the road. Many others, however, doubt the accuracy of such testing, or believe that police officers may skew the results of the testing to make more arrests. If you have taken a field sobriety test and are worried that it may be used against you in a DWI charge, consult with a criminal defense attorney Fairfax, VA trusts to determine your best defenses against the charge. Only a qualified and experienced attorney in your local area can give you advice tailored to the facts of the allegations against you. While you consider your options for hiring an attorney, consider the following frequently asked questions:
What is a Field Sobriety Test?
A field sobriety test is a variety of drills that police officers are taught across the country in order to arrest someone for a DWI. The drills typically are different depending on the state, however, most of the country uses the same three basic tests. These tests force drivers into situations that could allow both sober or intoxicated individuals to appear as though they are intoxicated. In fact, some people believed that a large portion of the population will show the same cues the officers are trained to look for, even when they are completely sober. If you believe that you “failed” a field sobriety test when your blood alcohol level was actually below the legal limit, reach out to a local Fairfax, VA attorney specializing in criminal defense who will be able to help you challenge the results of the test.
What are Commonly Used Field Sobriety Tests?
A criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, Virginia can help you determine the best way to challenge the field sobriety test used in your arrest, as each test has its limitations. Here are three common field sobriety tests with a description of how the results may be inaccurate:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Drill
One common field sobriety test is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus drill, or HGN. Nystagmus means “when the eye is jumping.” The drill involves an officer moving something, usually either a finger or pen, in front of the driver, looking for the eyes to jump to follow the object, instead of tracking the object smoothly. The officer is trained to look for the eye to jump throughout this drill because Nystagmus can be caused by alcohol consumption. However, Nystagmus is also a very common occurrence and naturally takes place in people for many reasons.
- Walk and Turn Drill
The Walk and Turn drill is another type of field sobriety testing. This test basically checks to see if a driver can focus his or her attention to follow directions. A police officer will explain the directions for the test, typically pretty quickly, and the driver will need to remember the instructions and complete the drill flawlessly to pass the test. The thought process behind the drill is that if you are under the influence, you will not be able to listen and follow the instructions correctly. The flaw with this test is that it is difficult even when sober to listen to fast directions and act them out without flaw, especially if you are in a situation that makes you nervous or uncomfortable. Even if you ask for the police officer to say the instructions again, they can see this as a sign of being intoxicated. A seasoned criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA can help you determine if your test was improperly administered to stack the deck against you in your arrest.
- The One Leg Stand
Another “attention” drill is known as the One Leg Stand. The usual process for this drill is that the driver is expected to raise one foot more than six inches off the ground and then count out loud to thirty. If drivers lose their balance, raise their arms, put their foot down, lose count, fall, or do anything other than exactly what they are told to do, the police officer could mark this as the driver is intoxicated.
As you can see, field sobriety tests are flawed. They may provide a police officer with some information about a driver’s level of intoxication, but may often fail if it is the only evidence a police officer has to support a DUI or DWI charge. Attorney Dave Albo has significant experience challenging such bogus results of field sobriety testing and is a criminal defense attorney Fairfax, VA trusts. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.