After leaving the bar, you blew a stop sign. Unfortunately, police were watching and stopped you for DUI. You agreed to take some field sobriety tests. Although you thought you passed, the officer arrested you.

You walked a straight line and held your leg up for more than 30 seconds. So what was the problem?

Maybe you just didn’t follow directions. Police look for signs of impairment and failing to follow directions can provide evidence of DUI. For example, an officer will tell you to take 9 steps before turning for the walk and turn test. What if instead you take 12? Or you don’t walk heel to toe? During the one-legged stand, the officer will ask you to hold your arms at your sides. What if you hold them out instead? These small mistakes can give an officer probable cause to arrest you.

Recently, an Illinois appellate court held that a defendant’s failure to follow instructions when taking the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) was relevant evidence of DUI. (See People v King). The HGN generally requires you to follow an object with your eyes from side to side without turning your head. The defendant in that case instead followed the object, then looked at the officer or else moved his head.

If you are charged with DUI or a related offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for the best possible defense. Maybe police lacked a legitimate reason to stop your car in the first place. Maybe your overall performance on the tests provides reasonable doubt that you are guilty of DUI. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(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.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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