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Los Angeles Drunk Driving Attorneys

Field sobriety tests

If you were arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles County, the officer probably subjected you to field sobriety tests (FSTs), a series of tests designed to determine your sobriety. Any FST is subjective. The officer’s subjective opinion (trained or untrained) determines test failure or success. The defense attorneys at Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP will review with you all the circumstances of your arrest including why you were stopped (an accident, a driving mistake), what happened during the stop, and how to prepare to win the case.

Knowledgeable DUI defense in Los Angeles

Our DUI drunk driving defense lawyers have handled DUI cases for Southern California clients for many years. We know that depending on the circumstances, FSTs can be difficult for even stone cold sober people. If you have been charged with DUI, we will investigate how the FST was administered, how the officer made a determination, and whether the test should be considered as evidence. There are many field sobriety tests. Some include:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball that occurs when the eyes look to the side. It can occur when looking from side to side in everyone, but is more exaggerated in an alcohol-impaired person. In the HGN test, the officer will ask you to keep your head still as your eyes follow a slowly moving object, usually the officer’s pen or finger, as it moves horizontally. This test is extremely subjective. In addition to not being even close to 100% accurate, the results can be affected by medical conditions, head injuries, seizure medications, phencyclidine, a variety of inhalants, barbiturates, and other depressants. Our DUI lawyers know how to question officers about this test.

Walk-and-Turn Test (WAT)

  • This test is generally easy for a sober person, but it can be affected by the shoes you wore, rough terrain, or by nervousness. The person is told to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. Then the person is asked to turn and come back in the same manner. Researchers claim the test properly given and observed has a 68% accuracy rate. That means that the officer is wrong in one out of three people! Our DUI lawyers have often successfully challenged the results of such tests.

One-Leg Stand Test (OLS)

  • In this test, the officer asks the person to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count by ones starting at a thousand (one thousand, one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.). The officer watches for a period of 30 seconds, looking for swaying, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down. This test, too, is not even close to precise.

Rhomberg or Modified Position of Attention Test

  • Involves standing with your feet together, arms at your side, head titled back, eyes closed and estimating 30 seconds. The officer looks for a “sway” that is not normal, but what is normal for one person is not the same for someone else! Maybe you have back problems or an old knee injury. Your age, physical condition or even a cold, especially an inner ear infection, will affect your balance!

While the blood alcohol content (BAC) test is based on scientific laboratory tests, the FST (field sobriety test) is based on subjective observation. Indeed only three of the tests were considered “Standardized” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA. Our DUI attorneys have the experience it takes to challenge both types of tests.

If the prosecution brings FST evidence to court, we will question the officer thoroughly to determine how well trained the officer is in FST testing, whether the tests were properly administered, and how the officer determined the subject was possibly intoxicated or driving under the influence. You deserve a DUI lawyer who will make sure the evidence was properly obtained.


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Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP
11845 W. Olympic Boulevard, Suite 1000
Los Angeles, California, 90064 USA