The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a standardized field sobriety test (SFST) that is used by police officers across the country to determine whether a driver is impaired. The SFST consists of three parts: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
The HGN test involves an officer asking a driver to follow an object with his or her eyes as it moves from side to side. An officer will look for three specific clues that indicate intoxication: lack of smooth pursuit, distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation, and onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. If four or more clues are observed during this portion of the SFST, there is strong evidence that a driver’s BAC was .08% or higher at the time he or she drove.
The walk-and-turn test requires drivers to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line before turning around on one foot and returning in the same manner in which they started. An officer will look for eight specific clues during this portion of the SFST: if you cannot keep balance while listening to instructions; start too soon; stop while walking; do not touch heel-to toe; step off line; use arms for balance; make an improper turn; or lose balance on return turn. If two or more clues are observed during this portion of the SFST, there is strong evidence that your BAC was .08% or higher at time you drove your vehicle.
The one-leg stand test requires drivers to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count out loud until told to stop. An officer will look for four specific clues during this portion of the SFST: swaying; using arms for balance; hopping; or putting your foot down. If two or more clues are observed during this portion of the SFST, there is strong evidence that your BAC was .08% or higher at time you drove your vehicle.
The results of these tests are not admissible in court unless an officer has been properly trained in administering them and follows proper procedures when doing so. The results may be challenged if an officer did not follow proper procedures, if a driver had a medical condition that could have affected his or her performance on the test, if a driver was wearing shoes that made it difficult to perform the test as instructed, or if environmental conditions made it difficult to perform the test as instructed.
Los Angeles DUI Attorneys Who Can Help You Fight Your Charges
If you have been charged with DUI in Los Angeles County, contact our experienced DUI defense attorneys today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our attorneys will review all aspects of your case and help you determine what options are available to you under California law.
Impaired driving is a concern nationwide, with driving under the influence traffic collisions causing thousands of fatalities every year. As a result, the United States government has taken a great interest in DUI issues and how these incidents can be reduced. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) is the agency responsible for studying DUI statistics and making recommendations which are often implemented by individual states.
The NHTSA has recently released a report which details the trends in DUI-related traffic fatalities over the past decade. The report is based on data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (“FARS”), which tracks all fatal traffic collisions that occur in the United States. According to this data, there were 10,874 DUI-related fatalities in 2010, which was a decrease of 3.6 percent from 2009 and an increase of 1.9 percent from 2001.
The 2010 statistics show that alcohol-impaired driving remains a serious problem nationwide, despite recent efforts to reduce these incidents through education and enforcement programs such as sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders. In addition to this overall trend, there are some other interesting facts about DUI accidents revealed by this report:
• The majority of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities occurred on weekends (Friday through Sunday). • Most alcohol-impaired driving fatalities occurred between midnight and 3:00 am on Saturday or Sunday mornings. • Males were involved in nearly three times as many alcohol-impaired driving fatalities as females (70% vs 30%). • Drivers aged 21 to 24 had the highest percentage of fatal crashes involving drivers with BACs above 0.08%. • Drivers aged 25 to 34 had the highest percentage of fatal crashes involving drivers with BACs below 0.08%. • Motorcyclists had a higher percentage of fatal crashes involving drivers with BACs above 0.08% than any other vehicle type except passenger cars (trucks included).
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