Michigan OWI Field Sobriety Tests
Designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, standardized field sobriety tests are often used by law enforcement agents to determine if an operating while intoxicated (OWI) arrest should be made. If you have been arrested after failing the Michigan OWI field sobriety tests, an experienced OWI defense lawyer can help you fight your pending charges.
Michigan police officers may use the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test to decide if there is probable cause for a drunk-driving arrest. Both the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests are known as divided attention tests, which means that they measure both your physical performance and ability to understand and follow instructions.
The one-leg stand test consists of an instruction and performance stage. During the instruction phase, the officer will ask you to stand with your feet together and arms at your side while he or she explains and demonstrates how you should perform the test. After confirming that you understand the directions, you will be instructed to stand on one leg while raising the other six inches off the ground and counting one-one thousand, two-one thousand until asked to stop.
The officer will look for four clues during the test, which include: using your arms to maintain balance, swaying, hopping, and putting your foot down before the test is over. If you exhibit two out of four clues, you can be arrested for OWI.
The walk-and-turn test also includes an instruction and performance stage. To perform this test, you will be asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps on an imaginary line, pivot, and then take nine steps back while counting each step aloud. There are eight clues for this test, which include: inability to balance during instructions, starting too soon, stopping while walking, failing to touch heel to toe, stepping off of the line, using arms for balance, turning incorrectly, and taking the wrong number of steps. If the officer sees two of these clues, you will meet the criteria for arrest.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures the jerking of your eyes, which become more pronounced when a person is intoxicated. To administer the test, an officer will ask you to keep your head still and follow a small stimulus with your eyes. The officer will look for a lack of smooth pursuit, distinct jerking while your eyes are at maximum deviation and the onset of jerking before your eyes reach 45 degrees. If you exhibit these clues in either of your eyes, the officer can place you under arrest.
Michigan OWI field sobriety tests are not without their problems—if the test is improperly administered, you could end up getting wrongfully arrested. To learn how to fight your OWI charge after failing the field sobriety tests, please submit your case information now.
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