Field Sobriety Tests in Minneapolis

At the outset, you need to remember that you do not need to submit to field sobriety tests when requested by an officer. Field sobriety tests are designed to elicit more evidence to bolster the State’s case against you. If you decline to do so, you will likely be arrested. So, unless you are 100% confident that you are not under the influence (i.e. sober), you should decline the tests – because chances are, you will be arrested anyways.

Now, assuming you to do take the tests, you will likely be asked to complete the HGN, Walk-And-Turn, and One-Legged Stand tests. The HGN test is essentially an eye exam that is designed to note clues of impairment based upon uncontrollable and subtle eye movements. There’s little that you can do to change the results of this test, so we won’t focus on it for now.

The Walk-And-Turn test requires you to take nine steps on an imaginary, straight line, turn, and then return, counting each step along the way. The officer is looking for 8 clues, and according to some national standards, two or more clues means you failed. The clues range from balancing issues, stepping off the line, an incorrect pivot, and not walking heal-to-toe. This last clue, though, harbors a common misconception.

Most people assume that you must touch heal-to-toe for each of the 18 steps. And failing to touch heal-to-toe means you failed. But, what many people do not realize is that you are not required to absolutely touch heal-to-toe for each step. Instead, your heal must be within a half-inch of your toe for every step. So, a small gap between your heal and toe is not failing the test. Few police reports actually make reference to this fact. Consequently, when an officer says the defendant did not touch heal-to-toe, this alleged fact needs to be explored because that is not the requirement. Because many people – including some officers – may not know this, it is imperative that it is argued in your favor by an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney.

As for the One-Legged Stand test, the officer is looking for four clues: putting the foot down, hopping to maintain balance, using your arms to balance, and swaying. Two out of the four clues must be present in order to fail it. That’s right – two clues must be noticed; simply putting the foot down, in and of itself, will not result in failing the test. And this, again, is a common misconception. For instance, just recently I had a client that was deemed to have failed her field sobriety tests. And the only clue detected on this test was that she put her foot down at the count of 19 – and then picked up again and continued without any issue. Putting your foot down is just one of the four clues, and two are needed in order to fail it. Like before, because of this misunderstanding, it is crucial that you explore whether you, in fact, failed this test and whether the police had probable cause to arrest you.

As you can see, field sobriety tests present issues that need to be considered when defending against a DWI charge. You need to explore these issues and get a Minnesota DWI attorney that knows how to challenge these results.