The most common field sobriety tests used in Colorado Front Range are the roadsides, especially the Horizontal Gazes Nystagmus (HGN). They have them stand, stare straight ahead, and they move their finger or their pen with a light behind it to track their eyes. They are looking for different types of onset of this scientific phenomenon called nystagmus. Officers usually look at both HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) as well as VGN (Vertical Gaze Nystagmus). Both tests are not foolproof and can be defended against in court.
Speak to Jenn and Justie at Nicol Gersch Law to learn about the nuances of Colorado Front Range field sobriety tests. Our experienced DUI attorneys could help make sure your rights are protected.
What happens with people who have been drinking, their peripheral vision when looking 180 degrees, their eyes do a jerking motion called nystagmus. Based on the nystagmus, an officer will check the left eye and the right eye. They move a pen up and down, following their eyes to see if they hit the nystagmus, and then resting to the eyes to see if they move.
A person could get up to six points. Six points generally tells an officer that the person is impaired. There are a lot of problems with that. There are many factors that could cause this nystagmus naturally. There are conditions with the eyes and the brain. Some people have a lazy eye, so some people just have a natural nystagmus. There are balance and coordination issues caused by a brain injury that could cause nystagmus. There are medications that could cause nystagmus. They are not scientifically reliable if a person has something else that could explain why they would have a natural nystagmus.
The other thing that the officers usually do during a traffic stop is a walk-and-turn. They have them stand on an imaginary line, sometimes on a real line in the road and have them stand with their arms glued to their side. They have to walk heel to toe for nine steps, and then have them turn around and walk back heel to toe for nine steps.
There are several issues with this. First, walking with one’s arms glued to their sides is completely unnatural. Second, heel to toe is not a natural walking motion. When anyone is walking, officers are watching to see if they are going to fall over, if they are having balance issues, and if they raise their arms to try to steady themselves. These are all things officers claim will show impairment.
The last traditional roadside maneuver is the one-legged stand. An officer will ask a person to stand on the left or right leg, hold their other leg in the air, and count to 30. They are looking to see if they hop, if they put their foot down, if they have balance issues, and if they are swaying. The issue is that this test is very unnatural for most people to hold their leg in the air for 30 seconds, especially if they have knee issues, low back issues, feet issues, or ankle issues. Any sort of injury could cause them to not have great balance.
Other tests include having them count or do the alphabet backwards, starting from a letter they pick to see if they could do the alphabet without messing up. They are doing it backwards, which is hard for most people, even sober. Another is having them close their eyes or look up at the ceiling, count to 30 in their head, and then tell the officer when they have reached that number. There are a lot of different reasons why someone might not do well on them, which is why they probably should not do them.
It is important to understand your rights during and after a DUI. For example, a person could refuse to perform a field sobriety test in Colorado Front Range any time they want. They do not have to do them. They are voluntary.
Reach out to Justie and Jenn at Nicol Gersch Law to learn about your rights during Colorado Front Range field sobriety tests. Call today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.