Many police department, including Chicago, Niles, Morton Grove and Skokie, require police to video traffic stops if their car is equipped with a camera. The video should be the most accurate record of how you performed on field sobriety tests. At times, the video even captures your driving before the police pulled you over.
When there is a video, your defense attorney will review it to see whether you have a good chance of winning at trial. Sometimes on a first offense, the video evidence can help the attorney win a motion to undo the Secretary of State’s summary suspension of your driver’s license.
So how do you know how well you did?
First, we look at any driving captured on the video. Were you crossing the lines? Did you swerve over two lanes to make a left turn? Were you driving the wrong way down a one way? Did your driving seem slow and unsteady?
If you took field sobriety tests, the officer generally starts with the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), which involves following an object like a pencil from side to side with your eyes. You cannot really evaluate how you did through a video, and fortunately, the courts do not tend to rely on this test. The officer, however, will look to see if your eyes are bobbing up and down as they follow the pencil.
The next test is usually the Walk and Turn. Most officers will demonstrate what they want you to do. Generally, you have to walk a straight line heel to toe for 9 steps, turn around with small steps, then walk back 9 steps. For this, we look at how well you followed directions. Did you take the correct number of steps? Did you walk heel to toe or as you would normally? Were you putting your foot down to catch your balance or failing to walk a straight line?
The final test is generally the One-Leg Stand. Here, you have to raise your foot about six inches off the ground with your arms pinned to your sides, and then count to 30, which can be a lot to remember while under stress. For this, we look at how long you kept your foot up. How many times did you put it down? Were your arms flailing to catch your balance instead of staying at your sides?
If your tests went well, there is a good chance you could win a not guilty verdict at trial. Even if they were poor, however, not all is lost. There are many factors that can influence how well you did. Were you wearing high heels? Was it cold outside? Do you have a condition that makes it difficult to walk or keep your balance? Did the officer demonstrate the tests? Did they have a reason to stop you in the first place?
If you are charged with DUI, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with others or police. Just like in cop shows, any statements you make can be used against you. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. In appropriate cases, an attorney may even get a field sobriety test or breathalyzer thrown out along with the charges against you.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, see our related blog: Can you Fail Field Sobriety Tests Even if You Are not Intoxicated?.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)