The Ohio Field Sobriety Test


Written by Rob Healey on March 2, 2015 in Field Sobriety Test

There is no feeling quite like looking in your rearview mirror while driving to see the red and blue flashing lights of a police car. The sick feeling only intensifies when the police inform you that you are being pulled over because you are suspected of operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, also know as an OVI charge in Dayton.

According to the Ohio OVI Interdiction Handbook, the police may legally pull you over for suspected OVI for several reasons. Perhaps the police officer observed something about your driving that peaked his or her suspicion. Maybe another citizen called the police with a permissible tip about your driving and the police are investigating that information. Or, the police may have stopped you at a valid DUI checkpoint.

Regardless of exactly how or why you are stopped on a suspected OVI, you will likely be subjected to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s Standardized Field Sobriety Test. The SFST is the sobriety test used by law enforcement in Ohio in order to determine a whether or not a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What does the SFST entail?

The SFST consists of three different components: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. All three tests are administered at the scene by police and, taken together, have been found to accurately indicate alcohol impairment in 91% of all cases.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

HGN refers to an involuntary jerking of the eyes that occurs when your eyes gaze to the side. The nystagmus, or jerking, is exaggerated in someone who has been drinking alcohol. A trained police officer is able to spot this exaggerated jerking in each eye.

Walk and Turn (WAT)

This is a test used to determine a person’s ability to complete a task while their attention is divided. The subject is asked to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line in one direction. After completing the nine steps, the subject must turn on one foot and return in the same manner. The police officer will look for a subject’s inability to balance while listening to the instructions, balance issues in general, or an improper turn.

One-leg stand (OLS)

The OLS also tests a subject’s ability to complete a task with divided attention. The subject is asked to stand with one foot on the ground and the other foot six inches off the ground. The subject must then count aloud to thirty. The police officer is looking to see whether the subject has trouble balancing on one foot, takes a hop, or places his or her foot down during the thirty seconds.

Sometimes a police officer may ask a subject to perform other tasks that are not a part of the SFST. Such non-standardized sobriety tests may include reciting the ABCs, counting the number of fingers the officer raises, and closing your eyes while touching your finger to your nose.

The best OVI defense is available through an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Suhre & Associates LLC have been providing the Dayton area with professional OVI legal services for years, and can help you today. Please contact us if you or someone you know needs help dealing with an OVI or other criminal charge. We will take the time to ensure you are given the best possible legal defense.

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