An experienced Oregon DUII lawyer should be acquainted with the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is the manual (or participation guide) which police academies in Oregon use to train police officers in how to conduct a DUI (aka, DUII, DWI or more commonly called “drunk driving”) investigation. We’ll get into some of the specifics in future lessons; however, suffice it to say that the manual explains that there are three standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) for DUI which officers should conduct on an individual that they suspect has driven under the influence of an intoxicant.
The first test is a horizontal gaze nystagmus test where the officer moves a stimulus in front of an individual’s eyes at a certain distance and at a certain speed and attempts to determine whether they can observe six particular clues. If the officer identifies four or more such clues during the horizontal gaze (HGN) test, that is supposed to give the officer an understanding that the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or alcohol.
The second field sobriety test is a walk and turn test. As with all three standardized field sobriety tests, the instructions with which the officer is supposed to explain the test prior to an individual performing the test are quite specific, and the performance of the officer’s instructions should be carefully compared to the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual’s language. The walk and turn test involves asking the individual to stand in an instruction position while the officer explains the test. And then (and this is quite a general summary), ask the person to take nine heel to toe steps out, turn in a specified manner and return with nine heel to toe steps. The officer looks for eight potential clues during this test and if the officer observes two of more of those clues, the officer then makes a finding that the test is consistent with drug or alcohol impairment.
The one-leg stand test is where the officer again gives the individual very specific instructions as to how to stand and raise one leg off the ground for a period of time. The officer looks for potential clues, and if the officer identifies two or more clues during that test, the officer would then be in a position to say that the test was consistent with that individual being impaired by an intoxicant.
There is no substitute for a DUII lawyer reviewing and being familiar with the training and procedure underlying standardized field sobriety testing in a DUII (aka, DUI, DWI or more commonly called “drunk driving”) case.
The Duvall Law Office represents individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony DUII throughout Oregon, and most specifically, in Lane County, including, Lane County Circuit Court, Eugene Municipal Court, Springfield Municipal Court, Junction City Municipal Court, Cottage Grove Municipal Court, as well as in Florence, and other courts throughout the region, including Benton County Circuit Court, Douglas County Circuit Court, and Linn County Circuit Court. Please contact the Duvall Law Office if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your case: 541-345-4500.