Field Sobriety Tests


Field Sobriety Tests (“FST”) are a series of coordination exercises used by police officers to determine alcohol impairment. In reality, however, they are used merely as a tool to gather evidence to support a later conviction against you. One thing a police officer will never tell you is that FST’s are completely voluntary. Unless you are on probation for a prior DUI, you should NEVER do them! In fact, many police officers will threaten to impound your car or take you to jail if you refuse. What they don’t tell you is, they will arrest you ANYWAY, because there is no such thing as passing FST’s. For example, if you are asked to do 20 things and did 19 of them correctly, guess what will show up in the police report? That’s right, the ONE thing you did wrong. The following are the most common FST’s that police officers utilize in Southern California; as you will see, the instructions can be confusing, and it is easy to find fault with all aspects of the tests, even if you are sober!

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”)
“I am going to check your eyes. Please remove your glasses. Are you wearing contacts? Please look at the top of the stimulus. Keep your head still, and follow the top of the stimulus when I move it. Only move your eyes, not your head. Do you understand?”

Romberg Balance Test
“Please stand with your heels and toes together, and your arms at your sides. Do not begin until I tell you to. When I tell you to, tilt your head back like this and close your eyes. When I say “begin,” estimate a 30 second time period to yourself. When you think 30 seconds have passed, open your eyes, tilt your head forward, and tell me “stop.” Do you understand? Tilt your head back, close your eyes, and begin.”

Walk and Turn Test
“Please put your left foot on the line. Now put your right foot in front of it, with your right heel touching your left toes. Do not begin until I tell you to. When I say “begin,” take nine heel to toe steps down the line, turn around, and take nine heel to toe steps back. Make your turn by keeping your front foot on the line, and then use your other foot to turn yourself around with several small steps. Keep your arms at your sides at all times. Watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud. Once you begin, do not stop until you have completed the test. Do you understand? Begin.”

One Leg Stand Test
“Please stand with your heels and toes together, and your arms at your sides. Don’t do anything until I tell you to. When I tell you do, raise your right foot approximately six inches off the ground, with your toes pointed out. Keep your left leg straight. Hold that position while you count out loud in the following manner: “1001, 1002, 1003,” and so on until I tell you to stop. If you put your foot down, immediately lift it back up and continue counting. Watch your raised foot while you are counting, and keep your arms at your sides. Do you understand? Begin.”

Finger to Nose Test
“Please stand with your heels and toes together, and your arms at your side. Make a fist, and extend your index fingers. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing forward. Do not begin until I tell you to. When I tell you to, touch the tip of your nose with the tip of your index finger. I will tell you which hand to use. Return your hand to your side after touching your nose. Your eyes will be closed, and your head will be tilted back. Do you understand? Tilt your head back and close your eyes.”
Confused yet? Imagine having to perform these exercises at the side of the road, when you are nervous, afraid, and perhaps English is not your first language, with cars passing by, people watching you. You can see how these tests are designed so you can fail!

The Law Office of “The DUI Specialist” Jeff Yeh is proud to serve clients in all of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The firm handles DUI and criminal cases in Torrance, Long Beach, South Bay, Downey, San Fernando, Santa Monica, Westminster, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Hawthorne, Fullerton, Laguna Niguel, Alhambra, Hollywood, Yorba Linda, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Newhall, Whittier, West Covina, Calabasas, Garden Grove, Tustin, Foutain Valley, Anaheim, Inglewood, Buena Park, Cerritos, Lakewood, Los Alamitos, Bellflower, Norwalk, Chino, Carson, Redondo Beach, Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Ventura County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, El Monte, Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Compton, South Gate, La Puente, Pomona, Costa Mesa, San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, San Pedro, Glendale, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Temple City, Westwood, Van Nuys, Woodland Hills, Encino, Sun Valley, La Canada, Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Azuza, La Verne, Pomona, West Hollywood, Marina del Rey, Chatsworth, San Fernando, Orange, Placentia, La Crescenta, Corona, Bellflower, Rosemead, Montebello, San Dimas, Vernon, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Diamond Bar, Sherman Oaks, Eagle Rock, Bel Air, Chino Hills, Brentwood, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Fontana, Riverside, Big Bear, Barstow, Indio, Murrieta, Blythe, and all other cities in Southern California.

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