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What Happens In A Field Sobriety Test in Oakland

Oakland law enforcement officers, like other officers across the state of California, use field sobriety tests to help determine if drivers are intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). Field sobriety tests results are not always used in court to convict a defendant of DUI, but they are used to provide probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Field sobriety tests were standardized in the late 1970s by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the help of the Southern California Research Institute. The standardized test is comprised of three testing components: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one leg stand test and the walk the line test. These tests have been scientifically proven to provide evidence of intoxication.

All states, including California, have made it illegal for drivers to operate a motor vehicle if their BAC or blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher. Oakland drivers may also be charged with DUI or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol if they are “unable to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances”. Oakland officers who witness any type of illegal or erratic driving actions and have probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated have the legal authority to stop the driver and ask them to submit to an Oakland field sobriety test.

Hiring an Oakland DUI Lawyer

Drivers who have failed a field sobriety test in Oakland, California, should contact an Oakland DUI lawyer. DUI lawyers in Oakland can help the driver potentially get their DUI charges reduced or dismissed. If a dismissal is not possible, a DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a more favorable DUI sentence. DUI attorneys can build solid DUI defenses for their Oakland clients and help their clients avoid high fines, probation and potential jail sentences. Oakland DUI attorneys can not guarantee a dismissal, but they can provide professional, affordable DUI help.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test allows the police officer to test the nystagmus or the “congenital or acquired persistent, rapid, involuntary, and oscillatory movement of the eyeball.”  To test the nystagmus the officer will move an object, generally a pen or small light, in front of the driver’s face and ask them to follow the light with out moving their head. Intoxicated drivers are less able to control their eye movements and their eyes generally have an exaggerated or jerking motion as they track the object. Sober drivers are generally able to track the light with a slow coordinated motion, unless they are taking certain types of medication, have neurological issues or have a congenital eye defect.

Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test has been developed to test a driver’s ability to perform a variety of simple tasks which most sober drivers can easily do. Drivers are asked to stand straight, face forward and walk heel to toe for 9 steps, turn and walk back. Can the driver stand straight and walk down the line with out falling, swaying or using their arms for balance? Did the driver follow directions? Did the driver walk heel to toe? The officer will evaluate each of these elements of the test. Multiple failures can be an indication of intoxication. Prior to the test, the Oakland officer should allow the driver to remove uncomfortable footwear, give clear instructions and make sure the test is performed on a solid, dry, flat surface.

One Leg Stand Test

The one leg stand test is similar to the walk the line test. It also measures the ability of Oakland drivers to complete a series of simple tasks. Oakland drivers are asked to stand straight, their arms to their sides and their face forward. The driver must raise one of their feet approximately 6 inches from the ground and count for 30 seconds aloud. Swaying, falling, losing count, or using their hands for balance is not allowed. The officer will track all testing failures. Multiple failures can be an indication of intoxication.

Refusing a Field Sobriety Test in Oakland, California

Can Oakland drivers refuse to submit to a field sobriety test? Yes, it is legal, but officers may have enough evidence of DUI with out the results of the test and decide to arrest the driver anyway.

Under California’s Implied Consent Laws, Oakland drivers have given their “implied consent” to submit to a chemical test of their breath, blood or urine if asked to do so by an Oakland police officer. Drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test may have their California driver’s license immediately suspended. License suspensions can be challenged by filing an administrative appeal with in specified number of days from the DUI arrest.

If you have failed a field sobriety test in Oakland, California, or if you have refused to take a chemical test and need help filing the license suspension appeal paperwork, contact a DUI lawyer in Oakland. DUI attorneys in California can make sure you get the help you need and get you back on the road as soon as possible.