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Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

The district attorney's office prosecuting your DUI case will attempt to use your field sobriety test performance against you. However, a skilled defense attorney may be able to use the same test results to show you were not impaired at all. The attorneys of McCormick and Vilushis will thoroughly review your test performance to determine whether the field sobriety test will aid in your defense.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has three standard field sobriety tests - the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg-stand test. However, sometimes police investigating the case may rely on non-standardized field sobriety tests. These tactics include the Rhomberg Balance Test, finger-to-nose test, the alphabet recitation, and the finger-to-thumb test. It can be argued that these tests are less reliable gauges of alcohol-induced impairment.

Almost all field sobriety tests are known as divided-attention tests. What does that mean? It means they can detect impairment by forcing you to concentrate on two separate tasks simultaneously. For example, the charging officer will likely testify about not only how you physically performed, but also how well you followed the verbal instructions of the field sobriety tests.

However, field sobriety tests are not perfect, and there are many factors unrelated to alcohol intoxication that could result in poor performance. When necessary, your attorney from McCormick and Vilushis will attempt to prove you "failed" due to issues unrelated to alcohol impairment. Examples of outside influences include things like sickness, injury, extreme fatigue, or other neurological factors.

"Failing" a field sobriety test doesn't equate to an automatic conviction of driving while under the influence. Your experienced attorney at McCormick and Vilushis will thoroughly review your case - including alleged evidence - to determine the best plan of action.

Contact McCormick and Vilushis today for your FREE consultation.

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McCormick & Vilushis LLC
1514 Liberty Street
Erie, PA 16502

Phone: 814-455-5362
Fax: 814-455-5150
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