A field sobriety test is a type of test administered after a driver is pulled over for DUI in Illinois, or used for testing in other alcohol or substance-related crimes, meant to gauge the driver's mental and/or physical ability impairment. Field sobriety tests may test balance, coordination and an ability to follow instructions. There are three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) that have been tested and labeled "standardized" by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These are most likely the tests that a driver will encounter after being pulled over for suspected drunk driving, though other tests may be administered as well.
The are the HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test. Each of these Field Sobriety Tests has been "validated" by studies to help an officer build evidence to determine whether someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but there are limitations. Each test is only reliable up to a point, and the reliability decreases as the officer administering the tests begins to deviate from the standardized instructions and methodology for administering and scoring performance of the tests.
Because of the complexity of the tests, and the fact that it takes very little to "fail" the tests, even when completely sober, we always advise that people do not submit to Field Sobriety Testing. These tests are evidence collection tools. That said, most people investigated for an Illinois DUI do submit, and that's where qualified attorneys become important. Challenging field sobriety test results is possible with the proper training and experience with these matters. When you work with the DUI lawyers at Fagan, Fagan & Davis, you can feel confident that we will use our knowledge of these to seek the best possible result on your behalf.
Enlist aggressive defense for your case!
To challenge field sobriety tests, your attorney should have a complete knowledge of how these tests should be administered and graded. Your attorney should also be experienced in cross-examining the arresting officer that administered the tests to prove their faults or potential mistakes on his or her behalf. For example, there are some non-alcohol related factors that may influence a driver's performance on these tests. High-heeled shoes, allergies, physical injury, weight, age and a natural lack of coordination or even nervousness may affect a driver's ability to walk in a straight line, stand on one leg or follow an object with the eyes. If a test is administered incorrectly, a driver's ability to perform will be further jeopardized. Though you may have been arrested and may be facing drunk driving charges based upon your performance on field sobriety tests, there is hope - we can help you challenge your Illinois Field Sobriety Testing.