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About Utah Field Sobriety Testing

When investigating a potential case of DUI, DUI-Drug, or DUI-Metabolite, one method police use to try to “prove” a driver is under the influence is with field sobriety testing. There are a many different field sobriety tests that the cops may administer during a DUI investigation. An officer may have you do anything from touching your nose, to reciting your ABC’s forwards and backwards, to counting. However, you should know this about field sobriety testing: only three field sobriety tests have ever been studied and proved to mean something in terms of the participant’s alcohol or drug-related impairment. These three are considered the “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.”

Utah Field Sobriety Testing - Standardized Testing Methods:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, or eye test
  • 9-Step Walk and Turn (WAT) test
  • One Leg Stand (OLS) test
  • Intoxilyzer
  • Refusal to test is your right!
  • Utah Field Sobriety Testing

    Although these three field sobriety tests are considered standard, they are still subjective. Each of them are problematic in some way. Even some sober people will fail these field sobriety tests. If you are facing DUI charges in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, call Branson K. West, Salt Lake’s DUI attorney. He has the knowledge about field sobriety testing to help you plan your defense.

    More about field sobriety testing

    There are a number of tests that cops may ask you to perform during a DUI investigation. You’ve probably seen them on TV. They have people do everything from touching their nose, to reciting their ABC’s forward and backwards, to counting. However, you should know that only three tests have ever been studied and proved to mean anything. These three are considered the “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.” They include (1) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), or eye test, (2) the 9-Step Walk and Turn test (WAT), and (3) the One Leg Stand (OLS). After long experience, I believe these tests are subjective, and that even sober people will fail these tests.

    Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

    This is the “eye test.” The officer may use a finger or pen and move it back and forth in front of your face for a few minutes. Most people believe that they did Field Sobriety Testing in Utahwell if they were able to follow it and not move their head. However, what the cop is actually looking for is an involuntary jerking of the eyes, or, nystagmus. In theory, the more clues and the more pronounced they appear, the more likely it is that an individual is above the legal limit. Feel free to call 801-285-5550 or email me for more information on Utah field sobriety testing or for a free field sobriety testing consultation.

    9-Step Walk and Turn

    This test is often described as the “walking the line” test. People are asked to walk heel to toe nine steps, turn around and walk back nine more steps. I have often said, and firmly believe, that sober people will likely fail this test. It is an extremely subjective test, and most people, drunk or sober, will look bad after the cop reports on this type of field sobriety test. People with knee, hip, ankle, or back injuries will have a hard time on this test. People who are overweight will struggle on this test. Contact Branson K. West for a free DUI defense consultation or for more information about field sobriety testing.

    One Leg Stand

    This test has the individual balance on one leg while a cop waits for thirty seconds to pass. Similar to the walk and turn test, I believe this test will be difficult for anyone to perform, drunk or sober. People who have knee, hip, ankle, or back injuries will struggle on this test. People who are overweight will struggle on this test. People who are over 65 years old will struggle on this test. Feel free to call 801-285-5550 or email me for more information or for a free defense consultation.

    Breath Alcohol Test DUI Attorney UtahThe Intoxilyzer or Breath Test

    Once you’ve been placed under arrest, the officer will either have you blow in an intoxilyzer on scene, or back at the station. Contrary to popular belief, the intoxilyzer machine is not error-free. It is only tested to within +/- .005. Additionally, cops are required in Utah to perform what’s called a Baker Test prior to having you blow in the intoxilyzer. This means that they need to check your mouth, make sure it’s free from alcohol and other debris, and then actively watch you for at least 15 minutes. If they leave your presence, you may have an issue that could help your case. If they didn’t check your mouth, again, you may have an issue that could help your defense case. Feel free to call 801-285-5550 or email me for more information about Utah intoxilyzer breath test field sobriety testing.

    Refusal

    Some people refuse to blow in a breath test machine. If this is the case, the cops have two options. (1) They can end the encounter and decide they have enough evidence, or (2) they can get a warrant and draw your blood. Currently, it is extremely easy for cops to get warrants to draw blood. They have what they call their “E Warrant System” which allows them to email an affidavit to a judge who will make a snap judgment about whether or not there is enough evidence to justify a warrant. It takes just a few minutes. Nevertheless, some cops still fail to get a warrant, thinking they have enough evidence. If this is you, I WANT YOUR CASE! Even if they did get a warrant, you will still get what I believe is a more accurate result, which ultimately could significantly help your case. Feel free to call 801-285-5550 or email me, your DUI Attorney in Salt Lake City for more information.