When you are stopped by the police for driving under the influence it can be an overwhelming experience. There are many complexities involved in this area of the law, and not many people understand the finer points. One important aspect of OVI law is field sobriety testing. Law enforcement in Ohio utilizes three common types of field sobriety tests – the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. By law, police officers must substantially conform to protocol when performing any field sobriety test, otherwise, the results can be thrown out during a trial. If you end up facing OVI charges after taking field sobriety tests, contact an experienced OVI attorney right away.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test evaluates whether there is an involuntary jerking movement that occurs to a person’s eyes as he or she glances to the side. The degree to which this uncontrollable movement is present increases as a person’s intoxication increases. To conduct the test, an officer asks the subject to follow the movement of an object with his or her eyes. The object is placed 12 to 15 inches away from the subject’s nose. If the test is properly conducted, it takes a little over a minute to perform and involves 14 passes in front of the subject’s eyes. If the officer notices that the driver’s eyes jerk back and forth, then that will be considered evidence of intoxication.
A walk and turn test must follow several legally defined stages. A subject is instructed to place a left foot on a line, the right foot on the line ahead of the left, the subject’s arms by his or her sides, and to maintain this position until instructed otherwise. The subject is then verbally instructed to take heel-to-toe steps. A law enforcement officer then determines if the subject is intoxicated by evaluating his or her ability to walk heel-to-toe without falling out of formation.
Like the walk and turn test, the one-leg stand test must follow several established steps. First, law enforcement officers must give the subject verbal instructions to stand with his or her feet together and arms down by his or her sides. The officer then instructs the subject to raise one leg, to keep one foot six inches off of the ground, to keep the raised foot parallel to the ground, and to count to 30. Based on how the subject performs during this test, the officer is able to determine if the subject is intoxicated.
It is important to understand that field sobriety tests are not flexible, which means that the tests must be conducted in accordance with established legal protocol, otherwise they can not be used to prove intoxication in an OVI case. If law enforcement conducts these tests in violation of the law, a person is often able to argue that the results of the tests are not valid. If you are charged with any type of OVI offense in Ohio, it is a wise idea to obtain the assistance of a skilled OVI lawyer. Contact the law firm of Kruger & Hodges today for assistance.