Kansas City, Missouri DWI Field sobriety tests are divided attention tests. The assumption of the test is that a sober person can perform multiple tasks at the same time, and that an intoxicated person cannot. That is to say that an intoxicated person can only focus on one thing at a time, and since the tests require a driver to think about multiple things, the intoxicated person will fail the tests.
The problem with many field sobriety tests given by Kansas City, Missouri DWI officers is that only three of them have been validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Here are the tests most often given by Kansas City, Missouri DWI officers:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) - the Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer will ask the driver to follow a pen or his finger starting from the drivers nose, out to one side, then the next. The officer is looking for a lack of smooth pursuit, jerking of the eye, or a trembling of the eye. The officer scores the test. Each point awarded is a negative for the driver. Out of a maximum of six points, if the driver gets four, the driver fails. The HGN is the most reliable of the Kansas City, Missouri DWI field sobriety tests.
Walk and turn - the Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer will ask the driver to start with his right foot in front of his left foot, and tell him to keep his arms to his side as the DWI officer explains the instructions to the driver. The officer will then tell the driver to look at his feet as he takes nine steps down in a straight line, walking heel-to-toe, counting each step out loud, keeping his hands to his sides. At the end of nine steps the driver is to slowly turn to the left, taking small steps to complete the turn, then return nine steps in the same manner. The officer is looking for the driver to step off line, improperly turn, use his arms for balance, begin before the instructions are completed, not touch heel to toe, or other signs of intoxication. Out of a possible nine points, the driver fails if he receives two or more. This is the second most reliable of the Kansas City, Missouri DWI field sobriety tests.
One leg stand - the driver is told to stand with his heels together, pointed at a forty-five degree angle, keep his hands at his side, then raise one leg about six inches off the ground, keep his toe pointed outward, and while looking at his toe count out loud until instructed to stop. The Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer is looking for the driver to hop on one foot, sway, use his arms for balance, place his foot down, not look at his feet, not count out loud, show signs of muscle tremors, or other signs of intoxication. Out of a possible five points, the driver fails if he receives two or more. This is the least reliable of the Standardized field sobriety tests.
Finger to nose - the driver is told to close his eyes, and raise his arms out to his sides, then, when instructed to touch the tip the finger the officer tells him to the tip of his nose. The Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer is looking for inability to follow instructions, swaying, tremors, or other signs of intoxication. There are no standardized points for this test, as this test is not standardized.
Rhomberg balance test - this test, supposedly, challenges the drivers "internal clock". This "test" assumes that most people can estimate 30 seconds when sober. The driver is instructed to tilt their head backward with their eyes closed. That driver is told that when he thinks 30 seconds has passed he is to open his eyes, then look forward and tell the officer to stop the test. The Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer is looking for the driver to be off on his time estimation, sway side to side or back and forth, lose his balance, muscle tremors, or other signs of intoxication. There are no standardized points for this test, as this is not a standardized test. In fact, standardization has been attempted, but failed on this test.
Alphabet - the driver is told to say the alphabet start to finish. The Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer is looking for the driver to sing the alaphabet, show signs of confusion, miss letters, slur his speech, the smell of alcoholic beverages coming from the driver when he speaks, and other signs of intoxication. There are no standardized points for this test, as this test is not standardized.
Counting - the driver is told to slowly count backwards from a given number to another given number. The officer is looking for the driver to become confused, miss number, slur his speech, the odor of alcoholic beverages coming from the driver when he speaks, the driver forgetting where to stop counting, and other signs of intoxication. There are no standardized points for this test, as this test is not standardized.
Portable Breath Test - this is a handheld, portable breath testing machine that the driver is instructed to blow into. The Kansas City, Missouri DWI officer is merely looking for the presence of alcohol, or for a BAC over the .08 level. This exact number the machine reads is not admissible in court. There are many types of these machines. Some give exact numbers, others don't.
A qualified Kansas City, Missouri DWI attorney with the knowledge and background on administering these tests can challenge the DWI officer's testimony on how they were administered and how the results should be interpreted.
Also, oftentimes DWI officers administer these tests in a manner so as to leave the driver under the impression that he must submit to them. But don't be fooled, Missouri law does not require a driver submit to these tests.
All of theses tests were standardized to .10 BAC, not .08. Therefore, if you tested between .08 and .10 there may be a legitimate challenge to the admissibility of these tests at court.
For more information on how we challenge Kansas City, Missouri DWI charges, contact us!
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Within these pages you will find information about:
- How officers identify potential Missouri DWI arrestees
- Fifteen ways we defend a Missouri DWI charge
- How to protect yourself if you ever are stopped for Missouri DWI
- Criminal penalties of a Missouri DWI conviction
- Information about Missouri DWI driver's license suspensions
- Information about Missouri DWI Field Sobriety Tests
- Information on how Missouri Courts rule on DWI law
- Information on how Frequently ask DWI questions
- Information on DWI law generally
- A breif overview of Missouri DWI's
- Our Legal Disclaimer
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