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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Examining Field Sobriety Tests in Wisconsin

Posted on in Drunk Driving

Waukesha County DUI Defense Attorneys

Police officers in Wisconsin must have substantial evidence to actually arrest someone for operating while intoxicated (OWI). There are a few things an officer may use to do this, and one common procedure is to request the completion of field sobriety tests, so they can gauge whether a driver is intoxicated while driving. 

The types of field sobriety tests used can differ from state to state, and sometimes between police departments and jurisdictions, but in general, a battery of three standardized tests is used. These tests are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as being accurate a majority of the time:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

When the eye looks off to the side, there is a slight involuntary jerking of the eyeball called horizontal gaze nystagmus. Everyone’s eye involuntary shakes when you look to the side, but when you are intoxicated, the nystagmus is more pronounced and occurs earlier than if you are sober. During the test, the officer has you follow the movement of an object, such as a pen or flashlight, while they examine your eyes to look for exaggerated nystagmus, and your ability to follow the object.

One-Leg Stand Test

In this test, the officer asks you to stand with one foot in the air, about six inches off the ground, while you count by ones. During this test, the officer examines how well you keep your balance, whether or not you swayed or put your hands out during the test, and whether you successfully completed it as requested by the officer.

Walk-and-Turn Test

This test not only measures your ability to balance, but also your capacity to pay attention. During the test, the officer asks you to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a line (which can be real or imaginary), turn on one foot, and come back in the same manner. The officer observes how well the person follows directions, and whether they can maintain balance throughout the exam.

A Delafield, WI DUI Defense Attorney Can Help

While these three tests are stated to be accurate a majority of the time, they are not infallible. There is always room for human error and subjective judgment, and possible factors other than alcohol or drugs that can interfere with the tests. An experienced Waukesha County OWI defense lawyer can help you challenge the validity of these tests. The attorneys at Bucher Law Group, LLC will examine your case and the circumstances of your field sobriety tests, and fight to help you keep your driving privileges. Call our office today at 262-303-4916 to set up a free consultation.

Sources:

https://duijusticelink.aaa.com/issues/detection/standard-field-sobriety-test-sfst-and-admissibility/

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