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DUI: Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)


There are several DUI tests that an officer administers while detaining a person on suspicion of DUI. These tests are known as Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). The FSTs are “standardized” or “non-standardized."            

FSTs are optional; however, the arresting officer is not under an obligation to inform the driver that these tests are optional. Caution: If you refuse to take a BAC test, you will automatically lose your license for at least a year. BAC tests are different than FSTs. BAC tests are the chemical tests such as the breathalyzer, blood, or urine test used to determine the driver's Blood Alcohol Level.

San Bernardino DUI Attorney will review the arrest record in search of improper administration of the FST tests. If the arresting officer did not properly administer the test than the evidence of the results of the driver's FSTs should be suppressed, which means the evidence cannot be used at the driver's DUI trial. Some of the laws for the proper administration of the FST tests are found at Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations.

The Most common "standardized" FSTs include:

Nystagmus Test: This DUI test is administered by having the driver follow an object with his or her eyes without moving their head. Usually the officer holds a pen or some other small object out in front of the driver about a foot from the driver's head. The officer is looking to see if the driver moves his head instead of his eyes which might indicate intoxication. But more importantly, the officer is checking to see if the driver's eyes are bouncing around or “floating” within the eye socket. This might indicate intoxication.

"Walk and Turn" Test: This DUI test is administered by having the driver take a certain amount of steps forward and backward with the heel to toe for each step. The officer is looking for imbalance or lack of following instruction as a reason to suspect the driver is DUI.

Rhomberg Balance Test: This DUI test is administered by having the driver take a position of attention, close his or her eyes, tilt his or her head back, and estimate 30 seconds. The officer is looking for bad balance to indicate intoxication or bad time estimation as evidence of stimulants or depressants.

Other FSTs include "non-standardized" FSTs, such as having the driver tap certain fingers together, count backwards, recite ABCs backwards, etc. The list below was developed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) to assist officers detect DUI and are considered other non-standardized tests:

1) Driver turning with wide radius 2) Driver appearing drunk 3) Driver straddling the center divider 4) Driver almost striking an object. 5) Weaving. 6) Driving off the road. 7)Swerving. 8) Driver driving more than 10 miles under the speed limit 9) Driver following too close to other drivers 10) Driving into oncoming traffic 11) Driving with no headlights 12) Driver's rapid acceleration or deceleration 13) Inappropriate stopping 14)Wrong signaling 15) Erratic braking 16) Abrupt turns 17) Drifting 18) Stopping in the middle of the road without cause 19) Slow response to traffic signals

Notice that "speeding" is not a DUI detection indicator according to the NHTSA.

To learn more contact DUI Attorney Christopher Dorado today

909.913.3138

 


San Bernardino county DUI Attorney

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