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Get the Best DWI Defense for your case!
(636) 256-7300
Arrested for a DWI Charge in St Louis, MO?
Get the Best DWI Defense for your case!
(636) 256-7300

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

SAINT LOUIS DWI CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
DOUGLAS RICHARDS
ATTORNEY AT LAW
9666 OLIVE BLVD., STE. 365
SAINT LOUIS, MO 63132
636-256-7300
314-517-5756
Field Sobriety Tests | DWI Defense Lawyer | Douglas Richards | www.drichardslaw.com

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS
PROPER AN
D IMPROPER PROCEDURES


The Improper Administration of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST)

Many times, police officers have inadequate training, and the standardized field sobriety tests are not properly administered. The average police officer learned about the exercises/tests at the police academy, and has had no training since that time. The result is that the required testing conditions and scoring procedures are never learned, or they are forgotten or modified.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established a standardized set of field sobriety "tests" or exercises to assist the police in determining whether or not you are driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The three standardized tests which are usually administered in Missouri are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN), One Leg Stand (OLS) and Walk And Turn (WAT) tests.

Field Sobriety Tests | DWI Defense Lawyer | Douglas Richards | www.drichardslaw.com

Douglas N. Richards

Attorney at Law


MACDL - Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

NACDL - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


Address:
9666 Olive Blvd.
Ste. 365
St. Louis, MO 63132
USA

Phone numbers: 
314-517-5756 
636-256-7300

Fax number: 
314-666-9850

Email Address:
drichardslaw@cs.com
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Field Sobriety Tests | DWI Defense Lawyer | Douglas Richards | www.drichardslaw.com

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS


Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus - HGN

You might wonder what exactly what is NYSTAGMUS and what is the police officer looking for?
Nystagmus is defined as an involuntary jerking of the eyes. Alcohol and other certain drugs can cause Nystagmus. This means a person's eyes will "jerk" or "bounce" when they follow a smoothly moving stimulus. The eyes of an unimpaired person will follow smoothly, like a marble rolling across a table.

During the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the police officer must tell you that he is going to check your eyes; to keep your head still and to follow a stimulus (finger, ink pen or pen light) with your eyes only; to keep following the stimulus with your eyes until I tell you to stop. You should be told to remove your glasses before taking the test. The officer must hold the stimulus 12 to 15 inches in front of your nose and slightly above eye level.

The officer is first supposed to check your eyes for possible medical impairment. At the beginning of the test, the officer must check to make sure your pupils are of equal size and look for resting nystagmus (jerking of the eyes when the eyes are stationary). Finally, your eyes must be checked to make sure they track (move) equally (together).

The officer must then check for three (3) clues in each eye: lack of smooth pursuit, distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation, and onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. These clues are used to score the test.

When checking for lack of smooth pursuit, the officer starts with the person's left eye by moving the stimulus to the officer's right. The officer must move the stimulus smoothly at a speed that takes about 2 seconds to get the 45 degree position. The officer watches the person's left eye to see if is able to pursue smoothly. Then the officer moves the stimulus back to his left in order to check to see if the person's right eye is able to pursue smoothly. The officer should take about 2 seconds out and 2 seconds back for each eye. The officer should repeat this procedure, so each eye is checked 2 times.

When checking for distinct and sustained nystagmus and maximum deviation, the officer again begins with the person's left eye. The officer moves the stimulus to the person's left side until the left eye has gone as far to  the side as possible. This is when there will be no white showing in the corner of the eye. The officer holds the stimulus for a minimum of 4 seconds, and observes the eye to see if it has distinct and sustained nystagmus. Then the officer moves the stimulus back across the person's face to check the right eye, holding that position for a minimum of 4 seconds. The officer must repeat this procedure so each eye is checked 2 times.

When checking for onset prior to 45 degrees, the officer moves the stimulus towards his right, checking the person's left eye, at a speed that would take about 4 seconds to reach the edge of the person's shoulder. The officer watches the left eye for any signs of jerking. If the officer notices any jerking, the officer stops moving the stimulus and watches to see if the jerking continues. The officer has to check to make sure that there is still some white of the eye showing on the side closest to the ear. If there is no white showing, then the officer has taken the eye too far (more than 45 degrees) The officer then checks the person's right eye in the same manner. The officer must repeat this procedure so each eye is checked 2 times.

VERTICAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS - VGN

Vertical Gaze Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes up and down when the eyes gaze upwards and are held at maximum elevation for about 4 seconds. The presence of this type of nystagmus is associated with very high doses of alcohol and certain other drugs.

When doing the Vertical Gaze Nystagmus test, the officer positions the stimulus horizontally, about 12 - 15 inches in front of the person's nose. The officer tells the person to hold the head still, and to follow the stimulus with the eyes only. The officer raises the stimulus until the person's eyes are elevated as far as possible. The officer holds this position for about 4 seconds, and watches closely to see if the person's eyes jerk.

Finally, the officer may check for VERTICAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS. This test looks for jerking of the eyes as the eyes move up and are held for about 4 seconds. 

The NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual sets forth specific directions and specific time requirements for moving and holding the stimulus during this test. Most police officers do NOT perform this test correctly! The NHTSA Manual indicates that if the police officer does not administer the tests in the prescribed, standardized manner, then the validity of the test is compromised!

Field Sobriety Tests | DWI Defense Lawyer | Douglas Richards | www.drichardslaw.com

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

One Leg Stand (OLS)

A second test used to help the police determine if you have been driving while intoxicated is the One Leg Stand exercise. For the One Leg Stand exercise, the police officer first must PROPERLY INSTRUCT you and PROPERLY DEMONSTRATE this test to you in order for the results to be valid. The officer MUST tell and demonstrate to you the following instructions: Please stand with your feet together and your arms down at your sides, like this; Officer demonstrates. Do not start to perform the test until I tell you to do so; Do you understand the instructions so far? Officer makes sure person indicates they understand.

Next, the officer MUST then tell and demonstrate to you the following instructions: When I tell you to start, raise one leg, either leg, with the foot approximately six inches off the ground, keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground; Officer then demonstrates. You must keep both legs straight, arms at your sides; While holding that position, count out loud in the following manner: "One thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, until told to stop; Officer then demonstrates the counting. Keep your arms at your sides at all times and keep watching the raised foot; Do you understand? Officer makes sure person indicates they understand. Go ahead and perform the test. 

If during the test, you put your foot down, the police officer must tell you to pick the foot up again and continue counting from the point at which the foot touched the ground. The officer must terminate the test after 30 seconds.

This is called the instructional stage. Most police officers say these instructions so fast most people do not understand what they are supposed to do.

In the performance stage of the test, the police officer looks for the following mistakes or "Clues":
    1. That you sway while balancing - This means you are moving side-to-side or back-and-forth motion while you in the one-leg stand position.
    2. That you use your arms for balance - This means you moved your arms 6 inches or from the side of your body in order to keep your balance.
    3. That you hopped to maintain balance - This means you are able to keep one foot on the ground, but you have to hop in order to maintain balance.
    4. That you put your foot down - This means you were not able to maintain the one-leg stand position, and put your foot down one or more times during the 30 second period.

The NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual sets forth these specific directions as to how a police officer is supposed to instruct, demonstrate and to grade this test.  Most police officers do NOT perform this test correctly! The NHTSA Manual indicates that if the police officer does not administer the tests in the prescribed, standardized manner, then the validity of the test is compromised!

Field Sobriety Tests | DWI Defense Lawyer | Douglas Richards | www.drichardslaw.com

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

Walk and Turn (WAT)

The third standardized field sobriety test is the Walk and Turn exercise. For the Walk and Turn exercise, the police officer first must PROPERLY INSTRUCT you and PROPERLY DEMONSTRATE this test to you in order for the results to be valid. The officer MUST tell and demonstrate to you the following instructions: Place your left foot on the line (real or imaginary); Officer then demonstrates. Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left foot, with the heel or the right foot against the toe of the left foot; Officer then demonstrates. Place your arms down at your sides; Officer demonstrates. Maintain this position until I have completed the instructions. Do not start to walk until told to do so; Do you understand the instructions so far? Officer makes sure person indicates they understand.

The officer MUST then tell and demonstrate to you the following instructions: When I tell you to start, take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back; Officer then demonstrates 3 heel-to-toe steps. When you turn, keep the front foot on the line, and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot, like this; Officer then demonstrates. While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud; Once you start walking, don't stop until you have completed the test; Do you understand the instructions?; Officer makes sure person indicates they understands. Begin, and count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as "One".

This is called the instructional stage. Most police officers say these instructions so fast most people do not understand what they are supposed to do.

In the performance stage of the test, the police officer looks for the following mistakes or "Clues":
    1. That you are unable to maintain your balance while listening to the instructions - This means that you do not maintain the heel-to-toe position throughout the instructions. It is not a mistake to  sway or use your arms for balance as long as you maintain the heel-to-toe position while listening to the instructions.
    2. That you start the test before the instructions are completed - This means that you did not listen to the instruction where the officer told you not to start walking until he told you when to begin.
    3. That you stop while walking - This means that you paused for several seconds. It is not a mistake if you are merely walking slowly.
    4. That you don't touch heel-to-toe - This means you left a space of more than a 1/2 inch between the heel and toe on ANY step.
    5. That you step off the line (real or imaginary) - This means you stepped and one foot was entirely off the line.
    6. That you use your arms for balance - This means you raised one or both arms more than 6 inches from the sides of your body in order to maintain balance.
    7. That you do an improper turn - This means you removed front foot from the line while turning, or that you spun or pivots around instead of taking a series of small steps with the other foot; and
    8. That you do not take the correct number of steps - This means that you took more or less than 9 steps in either direction.

    The NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual sets forth these specific directions as to how a police officer is supposed to instruct, demonstrate and to grade this test.  Most police officers do NOT perform this test correctly! The NHTSA Manual indicates that if the police officer does not administer the tests in the prescribed, standardized manner, then the validity of the test is compromised!



     Remember, help is just a phone call away. So If you have been arrested for DWI - Driving While Intoxicated or DUI - Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and you want a St. Louis County DWI Defense Lawyer who will give you the Best DWI Defense available, and who will give your case the personal attention it deserves, then call me, DOUGLAS RICHARDS. With over 28 years of experience, I can and will make a difference in your case.

Call me anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at either:

314-517-5756
or
636-256-7300

   
DOUGLAS RICHARDS
ATTORNEY AT LAW
9666 OLIVE BLVD., 
STE. 365
SAINT LOUIS, MO 63132


Drichardslaw@cs.com


Douglas Richards,  314-517-5756 or 636-256-7300  - serves clients throughout the State of Missouri, and in the areas of ArnoldBallwinBreckenridge HillsBrentwoodBridgetonChesterfieldClarkson ValleyClaytonCottlevilleCrestwoodCreve CoeurDes PeresEllisvilleEurekaFentonFlorissantFranklin CountyFrontenacGlendaleHazelwoodHillsboroJefferson CountyJenningsKirkwoodLadueLake St. LouisLincoln CountyManchesterMaplewoodMaryland HeightsMoscow MillsO'FallonOlivetteOverland, PacificRichmond HeightsRock HillShrewsburySaint  AnnSt. JohnSt. PetersSt. Charles CitySt. Charles CountySt Louis CitySt Louis CountySunset HillsTown and CountryTroyUnionUniversity CityValley ParkWebster GrovesWentzvilleWinfield and Wildwood.


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WALK AND TURN TEST
ONE LEG STAND TEST