The Police Use Very Specific Techniques
When Investigating a Driver for DUI

These Techniques Are Separated Into Stages
and Typically Include Observation,
Questioning, and Testing

Sometimes, Officers Even Use Deceit
In Order to Obtain Incriminating Evidence
Against A DUI Defendant

I Use a Number of DUI Defense Strategies
that Can Mitigate Evidence Obtained
Through These Investigations

These Strategies Can Help
to Get Your Case Dismissed or Reduced.

Find Out More Below...

DUI Investigation Stage Three

Stage Three of Ohio’s DUI/OVI Investigation: Pre-Arrest Screening

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises Ohio officers that the first task in Phase Three is to administer three scientifically validated psychophysical field sobriety tests to the suspected Ohio DUI/OVI driver. After the officer conducts these tests, he will make the decision whether he feels there is sufficient probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI/OVI.

Psychophysical tests are tools to assess a driver’s mental and physical impairment. The standardized tests focus on the abilities needed for safe driving: balance, coordination, and information processing. Following are the three standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) that police officers use after a driver exits his vehicle.

Ohio Pre-Arrest Sobriety Test: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) refers to an involuntary jerking occurring as the eyes gaze toward the side. In addition to being involuntary, the driver experiencing the nystagmus is unaware that it is occurring. Involuntary jerking of the eyes becomes readily noticeable when a suspected DUI/OVI driver is under the influence. As a suspected DUI/OVI driver’s blood alcohol concentration increases, the eyes will begin to jerk sooner as they move from looking straight ahead to looking to either the left or right.

NHTSA reports that HGN is the most reliable field sobriety test. When used in combination with the other two standardized field sobriety tests, NHTSA advises it will help Ohio DUI officers correctly identify impaired drivers. When administering the HGN test, the officer advises the suspect to hold his head still and follow the motion of a small stimulus with the eyes only. The stimulus is usually the tip of a pen, a penlight, the officer’s fingertip, however it could be anything so long as the object is of a color that is easily seen by the driver.

NHTSA advises Ohio DUI officers to begin with the driver’s left eye. Each eye is examined for three specific clues:

  • As the eye moves from side to side, does it move smoothly or does it jerk noticeably? This is commonly known as lack of smooth pursuit. Why do Ohio officers look for this? As people become more impaired by alcohol, their eyes exhibit a lack of smooth pursuit as the eyes move from side to side.
  • When the eye moves as far to the side as possible and maintains that position for several seconds, does it distinctly jerk? This is commonly known as distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation. Why do Ohio officers look for this? Distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation is a significant clue of impairment.
  • As the eye moves toward the side, does it start to jerk prior to a 45-degree angle? This is commonly known as onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. Why do Ohio officers look for this? Onset of nystagmus prior to 45-degrees is a clue of impairment.

As a driver’s blood alcohol concentration increases, it is more likely that the aforementioned clues will be present in the suspected DUI/OVI driver. NHTSA advises Ohio officers to look for six total clues in this test, three for each eye. If the officer observes four or more clues, it is likely that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above .10. NHTSA further reports that this test is 77% accurate. Remember, not only are the clues involuntary, the person experiencing the nystagmus is unaware that it is even occurring.

Ohio Pre-Arrest Sobriety Test: Walk and Turn (WAT)

NHTSA recommends utilizing this divided attention test in two stages. In the instruction stage, the suspected DUI/OVI driver must stand with his feet in heel-to-toe position, keep his arms at his sides, and listen to the instructions. This stage of the test divides the driver’s attention between the task of balancing and the task of processing the officer’s instruction.

The second stage is the walking stage. In this stage of the test, the suspected DUI/OVI driver takes nine heel-to-toe steps, turns in a prescribed manner, and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back. Further, the driver is required to do this while watching his feet and counting his steps out loud. During the turn, the driver keeps his front foot on the line, pivots around, and uses the other foot to take several small steps to complete the turn. This stage of the test divides the suspected DUI/OVI driver’s attention among a balancing task, a small muscle control task and a short-term memory task.

NHTSA reports that Ohio officers should administer and interpret the Walk and Turn test in a standardized manner. Officers are advised to evaluate the suspected DUI/OVI driver’s performance based on observation of the following eight clues:

  • Can’t balance during instructions
  • Starts walking too soon
  • Stops while walking
  • Doesn’t touch heel-to-toe
  • Steps off of the line
  • Uses arms to balance
  • Loses balance on turn or turns incorrectly
  • Takes the wrong number of steps

NHTSA reports that a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is likely to be above .10 if a suspected DUI/OVI driver exhibits two or more of the clues or cannot complete the test. NHTSA further reports that this test is proven to be accurate 68% of the time.

Ohio’s Pre-Arrest Sobriety Test: The One Leg Stand (OLS)

Like the Walk and Turn test, the One Leg Stand test is divided into two stages, the instructions stage and the balance and counting stage. In the instructions stage, the suspected DUI/OVI driver must stand with his feet together, keep his arms at his sides and listen to instructions. This reportedly divides the Ohio driver’s attention between a balancing task and an information processing task.

In the balance and counting state, the suspected DUI/OVI driver must raise one leg with his foot approximately six inches off the ground, keeping the raised foot parallel to the ground. While watching his elevated foot, the Ohio driver counts aloud in the following manner: “one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three…..” until told to stop. This part of the test divides the driver’s attention between balancing and small muscle control.  NHTSA advises Ohio officers that many impaired drivers are able to perform the exercise for 25 seconds but very few can do it for 30.

NHTSA reports that the One Leg Stand test should be administered and interpreted in a standardized manner. Officers are advised to evaluate the suspected DUI/OVI driver’s performance based on observation of the following four clues:

  • Sways while balancing
  • Uses arms to balance
  • Hops while standing
  • Puts foot down

NHTSA reports that an Ohio driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is likely to be above .10 if a driver exhibits two or more clues or cannot complete the test. NHTSA further reports that this test is proven to be accurate 65% of the time.

Common Mistakes in Ohio DUI/OVI Investigations

No Ohio DUI/OVI/drinking and driving arrest is perfect and the best Ohio DUI/OVI lawyers knows this. Most Ohio DUI/OVI investigations include a number of witnesses, including police officers and the personnel who collect, store and test chemical samples.  These witnesses are human and they make mistakes. Further, most Ohio DUI/OVI investigations include a breath testing device or other testing equipment that is not always maintained according to current Ohio DUI/OVI regulations.

Do You Want Award-Winning Ohio DUI/OVI Representation?

There are over 1 million laws in the United States. I am a top Ohio DUI/OVI defense lawyer who devotes his entire practice to ONE. Because of my experience and concentrated focus, I know the Ohio DUI/OVI laws better than most attorneys in the state. I am passionate about Ohio DUI/OVI defense and I get results, however, I only accept a limited number of clients. If you’re serious about your case and want a top Ohio DUI/OVI lawyer on your team, call me, the Ohio DUI Dude at 1-844-DUI-DUDE.

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