What is Field Sobriety Testing
Depending upon a law enforcement officer's training, intelligence and abilities, field sobriety
testing has many different definitions and applications.
First, it is rarely, if ever, true that a police officer will ask a driver to recite the alphabet
backwards. However, a driver may be asked to state the alphabet in order or to recite the FIFTH
letter of the alphabet. Occasionally, a driver is asked to start at a certain letter, like "D" and
then continue forward, stopping at "R." These type of alphabet tests are considered divided attention
tests, somewhat like that children's game called "Simon Says" with the point being to trick the subjects
It must be clearly understood that divided attention tests, and field sobriety tests in general, are not
designed to point out achievement, they are designed for failure and failure is what a law enforcement
officer is looking for.
Drivers can take some comfort in knowing that the alphabet divided attention test, along with the counting
backwards tests and the finger dexterity testing are not "STANDARDIZED" tests, meaning they are not necessarily
approved tests for showing impairment from alcohol or other drugs.
However, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests such as the Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand and Horizontal Gaze
Nystagmus tests are also designed for failure. For example, in the Walk and Turn test, a subject must
go 9 steps, heel-to-toe, turning according to instruction and returning 9 steps. The trick however is
that a subject fails if he shows 4 "indicators" of impairment. What could those indicators be? If
the subject raises his arms for balance during even one step, or if the subject doesn't touch heel to
toe during one step, or even if the subject doesn't pivot the way the officer wants at the end of the
first 9 steps. Some officers even assess points against a driver for not standing correctly before
beginning a test. With the walk and turn test alone there are over 100 potential points to be counted
and yet missing 4 is considered "Failure." When grades used to count, a 96% was still considered an "A."
Field Sobriety Testing - Designed for failure.
When you are faced with testing "Designed for Failure" it is important to retain an attorney who is highly
experienced in Illinois DUI law. In addition, your attorney must be familiar with the county in which you
are charged. Your Local Lee County DUI Attorney may be able to challenge various portions of your arrest
and even your statutory summary suspension. Don't be bullied in a one-sided fight. Obtain serious
and strong representation on your own behalf to point out the failures of the arrest, not what the officer
thinks are failures in field sobriety testing.
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