Information on Field Sobriety Tests
In Knoxville (and all of East Tennessee), field sobriety tests are administered by a law enforcement officer who suspects an individual may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. Many people ask whether or not they must agree to a field sobriety test. Declining a field sobriety test can result in the individual being taken by the police to the nearest hospital for a blood alcohol test, known as implied consent. Blood alcohol tests are considered to be more reliable, and therefore can be harder to defend against in court. Should you agree to a field sobriety test, officers are looking for many commons signs of intoxication using a variety of methods to test the individual in question:
Walk and Turn
The walk and turn method tests the posture of suspect. In this procedure, the person needs to sustain heel-to-toe posture unless the officer instructs him or her to walk. The person is then asked by the office to take nine heel-to-toe steps and return to the starting position while maintaining the same position of heel-to-toe. The turn is completed by taking small steps with the help of one foot while maintaining the front foot’s position. The person has to keep his or her hands at his side, make a close observation of their feet and count up each step loudly. In this test, the suspect’s performance can be affected by some conditions like the footwear of the person, highway traffic, age factor and bad weather conditions.
One Leg Stand
This test asks the person to stand with his or her feet together with both arms at their side until they receive instructions from the officer. Some instructions are given to the suspects like standing still on one leg, keeping the leg in forward position so that the raised foot is parallel to ground and holding out the foot six inches off the ground. The person may be asked by the officer to stand still around 30 seconds while tracking every second. In all the conditions, the suspect has to keep his or her arms at their side and observe the raised foot.
Some conditions my affect the person’s actions and performance like age of 60 years or above, excessive weight, footwear and any kind of medical problem or disease.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Nystagmus is the unconscious movements of the eye. Generally, this movement is considered as the sign of alcohol consumption. Presence of an intoxicant in the body has nothing to do with nystagmus. Few elements make nystagmus without affecting the driving ability of a person. Nystagmus occurs in person by birth due to heredity or can be a result of structural neurological ailment.
Some of the signs of alcohol impairment arising while testing nystagmus is failure to keep the head unmoving and making of incriminating statements; however, these actions do not cause the deduction of points in test.
There are several conditions that may affect the performance of the suspect while nystagmus test. These conditions include eye irritation caused by wind, dust and rain, having a synthetic eye, optical disruption that obstruct the test like blinking lights, traffic and rain and having injured or frail vision in one eye. People who are not affected with the influences may show evidence of nystagmus. Some pathological diseases like brain damage, an ear problem, or brain tumors can also cause the nystagmus.
Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Some more non-standardized tests that are accepted by a few organizations in the U.S. (including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Park Service) include the hand pat test, the alphabet test, finger to nose test, the finger count test, the reverse counting test and the coin pick up test.
The Knoxville criminal defense lawyers at the Garza Law Firm, PLLC are committed to developing strong client-attorney relationships to ensure that the client receives the representation that he or she will need. Whether you are charged with the crime of drug possession, drunk driving or a serious violent crime, you can count on our skilled Tennessee criminal defense attorneys to guide you through each step of your case. We can help you determine the most aggressive strategy to obtain a successful outcome in your case.