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DUI Science; there are only three standardized field sobriety tests

Dayton DUI Attorney Charles Rowland > Uncategorized  > DUI Science; there are only three standardized field sobriety tests

DUI Science; there are only three standardized field sobriety tests

Extensive government testing was begun in the 1970’s to determine a scientifically valid way of helping police officers detect intoxication in drivers under suspicion of drunk driving.  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines were set up to help make these tests more accurate. After extensive testing, NHTSA determined that three tests were specific for alcohol intoxication: the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus), the walk & turn test and the one leg stand test. They are now called ‘standardized field sobriety tests.

Many officers rely upon other tests to determine intoxication.  These tests may include:

  • The Rhomberg stationary balance test wherein the driver stands, feet together, and leans the head back to look up at the sky while holding their arms out to the side;
  • An alphabet test where the officer asks the subject to say the alphabet from D to P (some officers ask a subject to say the alphabet backward);
  • The finger-to-nose test: this requires the driver might to close his or her eyes and bring the finger around to touch the nose; and/or
  • The hand-pat test: the driver is asked to extend a hand in front, palm upwards. The other hand is then placed on top of the first hand, palm downwards. The driver then ‘pats’ the lower hand with the upper hand by rotating it, so that first the lower hand is patted with the palm of the upper hand and then with the back of the upper hand;

While there is a place for using distracting questions, confusion or divided-attention tasks (Phase II), the probable cause determination of whether or not to place a person under arrest for drunk driving is not that place.  All of the above were excluded as specific to prove alcohol intoxication. You need the skills of an experienced attorney who can properly challenge the probable cause determinations made by the arresting officer.  Charles M. Rowland II has been trained in the latest NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Test methods (Walden & Platt, March 2010).  He is just as qualified as law enforcement to administer and evaluate the performance of a subject on the standardized three-test battery and to challenge non-scientific  “stupid-human tricks” that an officer may employ.  Contact Dayton DUI Attorney Charles M. Rowland II today at 937-318-1DUI (318-1384), 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263), www.DaytonDUI.com.

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Charles Rowland


Charles M. Rowland II has been representing the accused drunk driver for over 20 years. Contact him at (937) 318-1384 if you find yourself facing a DUI (now called OVI) charge.

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