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Fighting Field Sobriety tests in California


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11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You've been stopped by law enforcement.  You're asked to exit your vehicle.  Then, the field sobriety tests begin. You're going to fail these tests because the officer is the judge of success. 

What exactly are these tests, and what do they purport to show? One test is the Walk and Turn Test.  During this test, the officer asks you to take nine heel-to-toe steps, stop, turn, and take nine more heel-to-toe steps.  While performing the test, the office looks to see if you can folow instructions, maintain balance, and stay on a designated line.

Another test is the "One Leg Stand test.  During this test, you will be asked to stand with your heels together, and your arms at your side.  The officer will then ask you to raise one leg six inches off of the ground and count out loud until told to stop.  The office looks to see if you lose balance, sway, or put your foot down.

A third test is the Nystagmus Test.  During this test, which is also called the horiontal or vertical gaze test, the officer will hold an object, like a pencil, about 12 to 15 inches from your face.  The officer will then move the object from side to side while watching your eyes.  The officer is looking to see if your eyes involuntarily jerk or tremble.

Sounds easy?  Even if you swear you did the tests correctly, and passed them, the officer will disagree.  It will take a good DUI lawyer to sort through the tests, the officer's procedures, and the results, in order to dispute the officer's final grade on your tests.



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