California DUI Field Sobriety Test

The Purpose

To test motor/mechanical skills, your divided sense of attention and
the ability to process information. This test does not determine if you
are drunk (impaired).

The Test

  1. Alcohol Gaze Nystagmus
    1. early on set – wavering at 45 deg. indicates .10 BAC as a
      general rule.
    2. tracking – inability to stay on track and follow finger or
      pencil.
    3. extremes – very early on-set
  2. Standing on One Foot – Balance
    1. hands at your side
    2. one foot extended 30 inches
    3. count by thousands
  3. Walking Imaginary Line
    1. 10 forward, 9 back – or any combination
      Where suspect must ‘process info and think’ of two separate
      instructions.
    2. heal to toe
    3. turning – (even)
  4. Finger Counting
    1. 1,2,3,4/4,3,2,1
  5. Alternate Clapping
    Palm and the back of your hand while counting

Other Variables that are on the Police Report

The appearance of the person plays a large part in the officers
assessment if the person is under the influence or not. Police officers
generally evaluate a driver’s physical appearance and condition while he
is still seated in the vehicle. This evaluation typically includes:

  1. breath odor
  2. condition of the eyes
  3. demeanor
  4. color of face
  5. dexterity
  6. speech
  7. clothing

The Person

  • Clothes
  • Breath
  • Attitude
  • Unusual Actions
  • Speech
  • Complexion
  • Alphabet – Written or Spoken (and Even Sung)
  • Eyes
  • Chemical tests in the field (Portable Breath Alyzers – PBA’s)
    (passive and active devices, not a substitute for a chemical
    test)

The Car

  1. Towing – Some persons have their car towed while others have them
    parked or driven to a safe area. This depends on where you were stopped
    and what the officers want to do at the time of stop.
  2. Occupants are many times tested to see if they can take the car and
    drive home or told to walk or taken to a phone so they can find a
    ride.
  3. Search- no search warrant required, if there is reasonable
    suspicion to suspect something like an open container or other
    violation of the law has been broken. The officers either needs your
    permission or a search warrant to check your trunk where there is no
    arrest, but if there is an arrest or any probable cause the officer can
    check the entire car and any containers or locked items such as a
    suitcase of briefcase.

Portable Breath Test

Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Device

The use of PAS devices constitutes a search or seizure within the
meaning of the Fourth amendment. The use of PAs devices is legal, and is
considered another field sobriety test.

Officers are required to obtrain consent from a subject prior to
testing. They shall read the admonishment:

"I am requesting that you take a preliminary alcohol screening test to further assist me in ….You may refuse to take this test…this is not an implid consent test….you will be required to give a sample of your blood or breath for the purposes of determining…."

CHP Manual

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