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Home  >  HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS (HGN)

STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING


CAPE COD OUI DEFENSE LAWYER JAMES POWDERLY

An Aggressive, Tenacious Cape Cod OUI & Criminal Defense Lawyer

Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are a battery of tests that measure a person’s agility, attention, coordination, and balance. When a Massachusetts Police Officer stops someone for operating under the influence, the operator may be asked to perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests. The officer then closely monitors the person’s balance, coordination, and ability to follow directions while performing the tests. Standardized field sobriety tests in Massachusetts are voluntary, which means a person has the right to refuse to perform them.

If the operator chooses to perform the standardized field sobriety tests, the Police Officer will ask them to step outside of their motor vehicle. The person will then be asked to complete certain tasks such as standing on one leg, walking and turning, and following a pen from side-to-side with their eyes. The officer will observe the person as they perform the field sobriety tests and subjectively take note of the person’s ability to pass or fail each test, grading the operator as they perform the tests.

Even sober individuals can have difficulty passing the standardized field sobriety tests. Operators can fail the tests for many reasons, including poor instructions, fatigue, weather conditions, and nervousness. The degree of difficulty involved with each test can also impact the operator’s ability to successfully pass the tests. Individually, each standardized field sobriety tests is relatively unreliable. Therefore, the Federal Government has devised a standardized series of three field sobriety tests aimed at improving the tests reliability. The three standardized tests include:
(1) the horizontal gaze nystagmus test,
(2) the walk and turn tests,
(3) and the one leg stand test.

Walk and Turn Test
During the walk and turn test, the officer asks the person to take nine heel-to-toe steps, stop, turn, and take nine more heel-to-toe steps. While the operator performs the test, the officer will look to see if they can follow instructions, if they use their arms for balance, if they maintain balance during the instructional phase, if they take the proper number of steps, if they take the proper turn, if they take each step in a heel-to-toe fashion, and if they stay on the designated line. The test has eight (8) so-called “clues” of impairment. Two (2) or more clues constitutes a “failed” test.”

One Leg Stand Test
During the one leg test, the person will be asked to stand with their heels together and their arms at their side. The officer will then ask the person to raise one leg six inches off of the ground and to count out loud until told to stop. The officer will watch to see if the person places their foot down, if the person sways or loses balance, if the person uses their arms for balance, if the person hops to maintain their balance. The tests has (4) so-called “clues” of impairment. Two (2) or more clues constitutes a failure of the test.

Nystagmus Test
During the horizontal gaze nystagmus test the Massachusetts Police officer will hold an object, typically a pen, about 12 to 15 inches from the person’s face. The officer will then move the object from side-to-side while watching the person’s eyes. If the person’s eyes involuntarily jerk or tremble, it can be interpreted as a sign that the person has consumed alcohol. The test has (6) so-called “clues” of impairment. Typically, Police Officers fail to properly perform and interpret this test and almost always indicate that they observed six (6) clues.

Cape Cod OUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for OUI on Cape Cod or the surrounding areas, obtaining a qualified attorney is the most important decision you can make. A OUI lawyer can protect your rights, inform you of your legal options, investigate the conditions of your arrest, and question law enforcement and witnesses. A skilled lawyer can also provide the resources and aggressive defense you will need to successfully fight your OUI charges.

Powderly Law Office has helped hundreds people charged with OUI and Drunk Driving. Attorney James Powderly has the experience, education, and specialized training to defend your drunk driving case. has the education, training, and experience to defend your drunk driving case.

Cape Cod Drunk Driving (OUI) Defense Lawyer James Powderly defends those charged with OUI DWI DUI in Falmouth, Hyannis, Provincetown, Barnstable, Sandwich, Yarmouth, Chatham, Bourne, Mashpee, Hyannis, Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, Harwich, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, Provincetown, Onset, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Wareham, Westport and throughout the Cape Code Region. To speak with an experienced Massachusetts OUI Defense Lawyer, call Attorney James Powderly at 508-343-0676