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There is a wide-range of field sobriety tests (FSTs), including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, one-leg stand, eye test called “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention (Rhomberg), fingers-to-thumb, hand pat and others. In Arizona, most officers will use a set battery of six common tests.
Unlike the chemical test, where refusal to submit may have serious consequences, Arizona DUI law does not require you to take any of the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to make a DUI arrest when they give the FSTs; the tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitably “fails.” Thus, in most cases a polite refusal may be appropriate and smart.
This is the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, a relatively recent development in DUI investigation. The officer attempts to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk (“nystagmus” is medical jargon for a distinctive eye oscillation). If this occurs sooner than 45 degrees, it theoretically indicates a blood-alcohol concentration over .05%. The smoothness of the eyes tracking the penlight (or finger or pencil) is also a factor, as is the type of jerking when the eye is as far to the side as it can go.
This field sobriety test has proven to be subject to a number of different problems, not the least of which is the non-medically trained officer’s ability to recognize nystagmus and estimate the angle of onset. Because of this, and the fact that the test is not accepted by the medical community, it is not admissible as evidence in many states. Unfortunately, Arizona allows the test as evidence and it is widely used by law enforcement to get DUI convictions. We believe it is one of the least reliable tests and are very successful in discrediting this test in court.
I want to take a moment to thank you for your firm’s handling of my case-in particular, the representation by my attorney. He went over the facts of the case, discussed questions I had regarding the outcome and presented options to consider. His follow-up was brief and handled with the same professionalism. I am truly grateful for all you did for me.
Thank you so much for everything you do for us. You are always so patient and kind and really care. I can’t even imagine how many clients you must take care of, but every time I call, I am treated as if we were your only client, and I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.