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Field Sobriety Tests in California: What You Need to Know


At Thomas Daly Law, A Professional Corporation, we understand that facing a field sobriety test can be a stressful experience. Whether you are pulled over by law enforcement or asked to perform these tests at a DUI checkpoint, you must know your rights and the procedures involved. In this blog post, we will provide valuable information about field sobriety tests in California, ensuring that you are well informed and prepared if you find yourself in such a situation.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are a set of physical and cognitive tasks that law enforcement officers use to assess a person's level of impairment due to alcohol or drugs. These tests are typically conducted roadside and are designed to help the officer determine whether there is probable cause to arrest for driving under the influence (DUI).

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

In California, there are three standardized field sobriety tests recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: This test involves the officer observing the driver's eyes as they track an object, such as a pen or flashlight, from side to side. Nystagmus, involuntary jerking of the eyes, can indicate intoxication.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test: In this test, the driver is asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn, and return similarly. The officer looks for specific indicators of impairment, such as balance issues, inability to follow instructions, or stepping off the line.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: During this test, the driver is instructed to stand on one leg while raising the other approximately six inches off the ground. The officer looks for signs of swaying, hopping, or using arms for balance.

Your Rights During Field Sobriety Tests

It is important to remember that you have certain rights during field sobriety tests:

  • Voluntary Participation: Field sobriety tests are generally voluntary, meaning you can decline participation. However, refusing a test can lead to other consequences, such as the officer using that refusal as evidence of impairment.
  • Right to Legal Representation: If you are arrested for DUI, it is crucial to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and help you build a strong defense.

Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results

Field sobriety tests are not foolproof and can be challenged in court. Factors such as uneven terrain, poor weather conditions, physical limitations, or even anxiety can contribute to inaccurate results. Our attorneys at Thomas Daly Law are well-versed in DUI defense strategies. They can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your field sobriety test to determine if there were any errors or inconsistencies.

Consequences of Failing Field Sobriety Tests

Failing a field sobriety test does not automatically mean you will be convicted of DUI. However, the results can provide law enforcement with probable cause to make an arrest. If you are arrested and subsequently charged with DUI, it is vital to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help protect your rights and build a strong defense.

Contact Thomas Daly Law for Skilled DUI Defense

If you are facing DUI charges or have concerns about field sobriety tests in California, the experienced attorneys at Thomas Daly Law, A Professional Corporation, are here to help. We understand the complexities of DUI cases and are dedicated to providing strong and effective defense representation.

Our team will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your field sobriety test, challenge any inaccuracies or errors, and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact Thomas Daly Law, A Professional Corporation, today to learn how we can help you navigate this complex legal process!