Before making an arrest for operating while intoxicated (OWI) Wisconsin law enforcement agents must have enough evidence to establish that a crime was committed. To do this, they may administer a series of field sobriety tests that are used to gauge your level of intoxication. While there are a number of tests that could be used, only three are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA): horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one-leg stand.
When a person becomes intoxicated, nystagmus—or the involuntary jerking of the eye—may become more pronounced when he or she looks to the side. During the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer will ask you to move your eyes from side to side when watching a small stimulus. If the officer notices nystagmus in your eyes, or you are unable to smoothly follow the object, this may be grounds for a drunk-driving arrest.
As one of the divided attention tests (the other is the one-leg stand), the walk-and-turn test measures your ability to follow directions and perform a “simple” physical task. During this test, you will be instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps on a real or imaginary line, pivot in a specific manner, and take nine more steps back. Using your arms to balance, pivoting incorrectly, or missing a step could be used as signs of intoxication.
As the name implies, this test measures your ability to stand on only one leg for 30 seconds. During this test, the officer will watch for certain “clues,” which include hopping, using your arms to balance, or putting your foot down before the test is over.
Unlike a breath or blood test, which are more scientific in nature, field sobriety tests are largely subjective. If you were arrested after failing any of the tests listed above, the attorneys at Tracey Wood & Associates can help. Thanks to their training on the field sobriety tests (which is more training than even the police in Wisconsin get), they are familiar with their potential problems and can challenge your scores if they are inaccurate.
For more information on defenses against the field sobriety tests, please contact our office for a case evaluation by completing the online form now.