When you are stopped on suspicion of a DUI, the officers will ask you to complete several field sobriety tests. Many people feel that they do well on the tests and have passed, however the tests are so subjective, it is questionable as to whether the tests are designed for anyone to pass.
The first test administered is referred to as the nystagmus. The officer will ask you to follow his pen or flashlight from side to side using your eyes. More often than not, people will tend to move their heads to follow the object from left to right. It is natural. However, officers will deem the person as having failed if their head moves even slightly.
Another common test is asking the driver to walk heel to toe 9 steps one way, then 9 steps another. Often this test is administered to people who are standing on an incline, or on a surface that is not even. Additionally, the person taking the test may not be wearing flat shoes, they often are wearing high heels, boots or dress shoes.
Officers will also ask drivers suspected of a DUI to balance on one leg, lifting one leg up and then the other. Officers will not how well the person balanced, how well they kept their stance and make a note of it for the arrest report. Whether sober or intoxicated, many people find it difficult to balance on one foot.
Officers will administer Field Sobriety Tests in an effort to occupy 15 minutes of observation time. In that time, they will gather evidence to build a case against you. Any failed tests will be noted in their observations and later put into the police report to provide the prosecutor with enough evidence to build a strong case against the driver and aid in their conviction.
An experienced Southern California criminal defense lawyer will also be able to prepare a strong case despite evidence provided to the Prosecutor against you. The field sobriety test are open to much subjectivity, and therefore can be vulnerable to weakness. A defense attorney that has handled thousands of DUI cases knows exactly what to look for when destroying evidence presented by the government and officers that indicate intoxication.
The knowledgeable attorney will sit down and listen carefully while you describe the night of the arrest in detail. It is through the detailed facts that will help poke holes in the argument presented by the Prosecutor. For example, the government may assert that the person was intoxicated because they lost balance when doing the leg lift test and could not complete the full test. The criminal defense attorney will introduce testimony that explains the driver was wearing high heels, or uncomfortable shoes that caused the loss of balance and not intoxication.
Consulting an expert will allow you to understand your options and defenses available to you so that your case is reduced or dismissed altogether.