How Do I Know If I Passed the Field Sobriety Tests in a San Diego DUI Case?

  • September 1, 2017

    A field sobriety test is just one test that you might take after a San Diego officer stops you on suspicion of drunk driving. Though you may feel completely confident in your skills and assume that you passed the test on your first attempt, the officer has the final say over whether you actually passed. Even those who haven’t had a drink in several hours or days may fail a field sobriety test because of balance problems or other issues. Learning more about the test can help you determine if you passed one in the field.

    Testing Your Tracking

    One aspect of this test examines how well you can track a moving object and is usually the first step an officer will take. The official name for this test is the nystagmus. An officer will use an object placed directly in front of your face and move the object in different ways to see how well you can follow the moving object. They might use a small flashlight or a pencil. As you track, it’s natural and expected for you to move your head in the same direction as your eyes. Some officers will think you are drunk though because you cannot keep your head still.

    Walk a Straight Line

    Walking in a straight line is another aspect of this test. The officer will ask you to walk a certain number of steps, turn around and then walk back. Others will ask you to walk forward in a straight line and then to walk backwards to the officer. The problem with this test is that you may need to walk across an uneven patch of ground. You may find yourself walking in shoes that feel uncomfortable too, which can interfere with the way you walk.

    Other Tests

    Officers can request that you do other things as part of a field sobriety test such as standing on one leg. You’ll need to stand up, raise one leg off the ground and hold this position before dropping that leg back down and raising the other. Officers may ask you to recite the alphabet forwards or backwards, touch your nose with your fingers and do other tasks that you might have a hard time doing when sober.

    Observation Time

    You can also expect to spend at least 15 minutes sitting on the side of the road, which is part of the officer’s observation time. This is the time that the officers spend seeing how you respond to certain questions and how you act. They will also use this time to write up a full report that includes all their observations and whether they think you are under the influence. The final report will include any tests that you failed and comments on the reasons for your failure.

    How Do You Know if You Failed?

    If the officers on the scene do not give you time to call your family for help, consult with a DUI attorney or even get back inside your car, you can assume that you failed one or more parts of the test. Unless the officers believe they have a reason to hold you and that you are under the influence, they must let you go.

    San Diego DUI lawyers hear from clients nearly every day who face DUI charges because they failed common field sobriety tests. The problem with these tests if that the officers testing people are the ones who determine whether an individual passes or fails. An experienced lawyer can talk with you about what you remember from that night and look over the notes and results of the test to find any signs that the officer used his or her personal feelings to evaluate you.

    You will need to explain exactly what you wore that night and where the field sobriety test took place. The lawyer might have you wear the same evidence to court or present photos of the scene. Your lawyer can show that there was an incline that caused you to lose your balance or that your shoes have slick soles that led to you sliding while walking. This can show that you failed the test for another reason other than being drunk. Even if you failed a field sobriety test, your lawyer can show that you are not guilty of a DUI.

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