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Tests that can land you in a California jail cell if you fail

If you are a rather clumsy person, the type that trips over your own feet while walking down a sidewalk, then one of the things you no doubt hope to never do is take a field sobriety walk-and-turn test. This is one of three common tests that California police officers may request you to take if they pull you over while driving and suspect that you might be intoxicated.  

The problem is that there are numerous variables that can come into play to cause you to fail such tests, even if you are stone-cold sober. If you stumble, trip or fall, you can wind up in handcuffs and on your way to jail for suspected DUI. That's why it's important to learn as much as you can about field sobriety tests ahead of time, as well as where to seek support if things don't go your way. 

Basic field sobriety test facts 

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, clumsiness makes it quite difficult to walk a straight line, placing the heel of one foot at the toe of the other, with your arms outstretched; yet, that is exactly what a police officer may ask you to do in a walk-and-turn field sobriety test. The following list further explains this test and several others that may greatly impact your life should a California patrol officer ask you to step out of your vehicle: 

  • In addition to checking your ability to walk a straight line, the officer at the scene is also observing your ability, or lack thereof, to follow a series of simple instructions. 
  • The one-leg stance test is also a balance-checking test; however, there are plenty of sober people who have trouble balancing one leg. You may have suffered an injury in the past, be heavier than average in weight or have some other condition that makes it difficult to stand this way for even a short length of time.
  • A police officer will often ask you to count aloud by thousands or perform some other verbal sequence task while standing on one leg.
  • Your nerves would likely already be reeling under the stress of such circumstances, so what would otherwise be an easy task may cause you to falter, which may, in turn, give the officer probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
  • Another common field sobriety test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. All human beings have maximum peripheral vision points.
  • Once you track an object to that point, your eyes may begin to jerk erratically because they can't extend your maximum peripheral vision. Drunk people's eyes usually jerk a lot sooner than the maximum point.
  • If the police officer who pulled you over asks you to track his penlight or finger using only your eyes, not your head, and he or she thinks your eyeballs jerked sooner than they should have, you may wind up facing DUI charges in court.  

You may refuse to submit to field sobriety tests. However, like in most other states, refusing to do so may cause you have your license suspended, and prosecutors often use the fact that someone refused against him or her in court. Facing DUI charges in California can be scary. If you failed one or more field sobriety tests, you'll have your work cut out for you to try to avoid conviction, but it may indeed be possible if you present a strong defense. 

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Fisher Law Office

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San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-4028

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