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Minnesota Field Sobriety Testing Attorneys & Lawyers
If an officer has a valid reason for pulling you over and detects signs of intoxication, he or she will likely require you to submit to one or more of the following field sobriety tests.
Call us today at 763.323.6555 or contact us by e-mail to schedule a free consultation. Protect your rights if you've taken field sobriety tests.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
In a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer attempts to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk ("nystagmus" mans a distinctive eye oscillation). If nystagmus occurs sooner than 45 degrees, it indicates a blood-alcohol concentration exceeding .05.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus is not a test of vision, but it is imperative that the suspect be able to follow the stimulus in order to make an accurate scoring of this test. The suspect must be instructed to look straight ahead, keeping the head still while following and focusing on the stimulus (usually a penlight, pencil or finger) with the eyes until told to stop. The stimulus must be twelve to fifteen inches in front of the suspect's eyes for ease of focus.
This type of test has been the subject of criticism. Nystagmus is a medical concept. Yet non-medically trained officers are asked to measure eye angles without proper lighting and equipment. Despite the strong correlation between alcohol consumption and horizontal gaze nystagmus, some trial courts across the country still do not admit the results of the nystagmus test into evidence. Minnesota courts accept this test.
Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test is a "divided attention" test that is easily performed by most unimpaired people. They require a suspect to listen to and follow instructions while performing simple physical movements. Impaired persons have difficulty with tasks requiring their attention to be divided between basic mental and physical exercises.
It is required that this test be performed on a hard, dry, level, non-slipping surface, with sufficient room for the suspect to complete nine heel-to-toe steps. This test loses some validity when conducted in certain wind/weather conditions that counters this criteria. The test calls for a straight line, which must be clearly visible.
The walk and turn test is an objective test based upon certain predictable errors that a person under the influence of alcohol will display, as well as scoring factors that will give the officer a basis for passing and failing a driver. NHTSA research indicates that 79 percent of individuals who exhibit two or more indicators in the performance of the test will have a BAC of .08 or greater.
One Leg Stand Test
In the administration of this test, there are two separate stages. The first stage is called the instruction. The test is initiated by giving verbal instructions, followed by and accompanied by demonstrations of those instructions. The officer is trained to advise the suspect to stand with their heels together and arms down at their sides. The officer must demonstrate this. The officer must also inform the suspect not to start the test until told to do so, and must receive an indication from the suspect that they understand the instructions so far and to document this acknowledgement.
In the balance and counting stage (the second stage of test), the officer is required to explain the test requirements further by instructing the suspect to stand on one leg, holding the other foot in front, while the officer demonstrates. The suspect should be allowed to stand on either leg that they wish. The suspect is instructed to keep the foot raised about six inches off the ground.
The officer demonstrates this and should advise the suspect if it isn't to the officer's satisfaction The driver is instructed to stand on one leg for 30 seconds while the officer watches for balance. If the driver struggles to pass the test, it is reasonable to suspect his or her blood alcohol content is .08 or higher. Failing this test is sufficient reason for an officer to place an individual under arrest.
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If you've been pulled over and asked to perform field sobriety tests, you may have been charged with drunk driving. Give us a call. The sooner you involve an experienced defense attorney, the better able we will be to gather evidence and address other important elements of your case. Contact our Minnesota DWI defense firm now at 763.323.6555 to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.
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Our Minnesota field sobriety test defense lawyers represent clients throughout Minnesota, including the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Mankato, St. Cloud, Moorhead, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Lakeville, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Richfield, Roseville and Woodbury.
Contact the Brown Law Offices, P.A. by e-mail or call 763.323.6555 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Minneapolis, Minnesota, field sobriety test lawyer.
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