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Wheaton dui lawyer non-standard field sobriety testImagine a world without standardization. What if Illinois posted its speed limits on roads strictly in metric terms and Indiana in standard ones? What if each of the fifty states had its own unique form of currency? 

To prevent unequal application of field sobriety tests across these United States, the federal government, through its administrative agency the United States Department of Transportation, promulgated uniform tests known colloquially as the HGN, WAT, and OLS. The idea is to make sure everyone in the country gets the identical testing and it does not vary from city to city, state to state, or region to region.  

Thus, if anyone attempts to offer a field sobriety test that is anything other than the official standardized ones, they are per se invalid no matter what an officer may tell you. These invalid variants can be saying the alphabet backwards, closing your eyes and touching the tip of your nose with an index finger, or any other crazy thing some lawman can make up. The point is, unless the test is from the United States Department of Transportation promulgated battery of tests, they are invalid.


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DuPage County DUI defense attorney invalid field sobriety testThose of us of a certain vintage can remember old depictions of DUI investigations such as from United States Department of Transportation public service shorts featuring the likes of actor Dana Andrews and from TV and the movies where lawmen seemingly decided a driver’s sobriety by made up and widely different on the spot tests.

To avoid this scenario of different tests and presumably different results, field sobriety tests for alcohol have been standardized nationwide into the basic three: horizontal gaze nystagmus, nine step walk and turn, and one leg stand. Thus, if an officer deviates from the standard tests and asks you to close your eyes, tilt your head back, and touch the tip of your nose with each of your index fingers, that is a per se invalid test, as it is not among the standard three. Likewise, if a policeman asks you to recite the Gettysburg Address or the alphabet backwards, those too are per se invalid. Even if in haste, you tell the policeman, “Take me drunk ossifer, I’m home!” relying on that alone to judge a man impaired by alcohol would be a deviation from the standard tests and invalid. 

Regardless, these nonstandard tests can, in some instances, be used as persuasive but not controlling evidence of impairment, so do not rack your brain trying to figure out if your arrest was standard versus atypical, call the Wheaton DUI defense professionals at Ramsell & Associates LLC and come in immediately for your free, no obligation attorney consultation! 

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Wheaton DUI sobriety test attorneyIn Illinois, the police commonly give a person suspected of DUI a set of "tests" to measure their impairment. These occur at roadside--also known as the "field"--hence the term "field sobriety tests."

What Are the Most Common Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois?

The most common Illinois DUI tests in the field are the one-leg stand, the walk and turn test, and the horizontal nystagmus test. Each of those tests is described more fully in other blog entries. These three tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the late 1970s and were implemented nationwide in the 1980s. These tests have strict guidelines for administration and interpretation, and a great Illinois DUI lawyer should also be trained in them so he or she can effectively cross-examine the officer and defend the driver. Donald Ramsell is a certified instructor in NHTSA sobriety tests. The other attorneys at Ramsell & Associates also have training in this field.

Illinois DUI law does not limit the types of tests that an officer can give to a person. Some police still use old tests, such as the finger-to-nose test, counting backwards, or saying the alphabet. These tests have never been scientifically proven to be accurate.

For more information on this subject, please contact a DuPage County DUI defense lawyer at 630-665-8780.

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Wheaton field sobriety test defense lawyerThe One Leg Stand (OLS) test is a standardized field sobriety test that is administered to detect impairment when a police officer suspects a driver of DUI. The test comes out of studies under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are four possible clues the officer will look for: did the suspect (1) sway, (2) put his foot down, (3) use his arms to balance, and/or (4) hop. Any one of these clues, when combined with the Walk and Turn test, indicates impairment.

OLS is another "divided attention" test. These tests are used to see if you can do two things at once. For example, are you able to keep your balance while listening to instructions? Are you able to remember instructions after concentrating on your balance? Studies have shown people have a hard time doing two things at the same time while under the influence. 

The test itself appears simple. You are basically lifting your leg for 30 seconds. But do not be fooled; the test is designed to make you look bad.

First, the officer must determine whether you have medical issues that would prevent you from doing the test. Then, the officer must look for any debris and make sure you are on a flat surface.

The officer will then have you stand in a position with your feet together and your arms at your side. At this point, you are focusing on your balance while the officer gives you the instructions. He will also demonstrate how you are supposed to stand--again, forcing you to do two things at once--asking you to balance and watch his instructions.

After that, the officer will instruct you as follows: "When I tell you, raise one leg about six inches off the ground and hold that position. At the same time, count rapidly from 1,001 to 1,030 while watching your foot." He will demonstrate this as well.

The officer is required to ensure you understand his instructions. Then, he will tell you to start. While you are counting 1,001, 1,002, etc., the officer is counting as well. The officer is also counting to himself. At 30 seconds, he will tell you to stop.

It is important to remember that this test is not 100% accurate. Even if completed under ideal conditions, the OLS test is only about 65% accurate. This means that even if you do the test completely accurately, there is still a 35% chance you are impaired. It also means that 1/3 of those who take the test and fail are sober.

Attacking the OLS test is just one step in fighting a DUI case. A competent and knowledgeable DuPage County DUI attorney will know how to challenge this evidence in court. Most officers administer the test incorrectly, making the results unreliable in court. Call Ramsell and Associates now at 630-665-8780 for a free consultation of your case where we can discuss the test and how it applies to your case.

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Naperville DUI defense lawyer field sobriety testsIf you are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of DUI, they may ask you to take a number of field sobriety tests. While you have the right to decline field sobriety tests, many motorists perform them because they mistakenly feel they can perform them well, or they take them because they equally mistakenly believe that they cannot refuse them and must perform them simply because the officer or officers asked. One of these standard tests is the “Step, Walk and Turn.”

This test should not be given to persons 65 years of age or older or persons with back, leg, or middle ear problems, and anyone with heels greater than two inches should be offered the opportunity to take the test without shoes with high heels. Please understand this is not gender specific and applies equally to ladies with high heels ready for a night on the town surely as it does to a man with high heeled cowboy boots or ropers.

The test should be performed on a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface. 

The test begins in part with the instruction stage, where the officer explains that the test starts with placing the left foot in front of the right on a straight line. The test taker must show that he understands what is expected of him.

The test next proceeds in part to an actual demonstration of the heel-toe walking along the line by the officer.

Next, the test taker actually begins the test when told, and the officer scores his performance. 

If you have been arrested for drunk driving after taking a field sobriety test, you should immediately contact our DuPage County DUI defense lawyers.

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