If you are stopped for an Illinois DUI, the officer will likely ask you to perform field sobriety tests. Refusing these tests increases the length of your driver’s license suspension but may improve your chances of winning at trial. If you take the tests, however, a lot may depend on to how well you follow instructions.

In Illinois, the officer often starts with the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) to test how your eyes follow a pencil. The HGN is not often used as evidence at trial. However, in People v. Tatera, 2018 Il App(2d) 160207, the state was allowed to use the HGN test to show how the defendant disobeyed the officer’s instructions by failing to keep his hands out of his pockets and at his side.

The HGN is usually followed by the walk-and-turn. In that test, you must count and walk nine steps in a straight line, heel to toe, turn using small steps, then count and walk nine paces back. Apart from keeping to a straight line, a court looks at how well you followed instructions. Did you only take nine steps? Did you use small steps when turning?

The next, and usually final test, is the one-leg stand. While counting to 30, you hold your leg six inches off the ground with your arms at your side. Did your arms stay at your side? Did you skip numbers when counting?

If you are really impaired, it’s probably better not to take the tests. However, if you already took the tests, all is not necessarily lost. An excellent performance might help win a not guilty verdict. But even if your performance was a disaster, an experienced DUI attorney can help. Did the police follow proper procedure? If not, the attorney may be able to petition the court to throw out any evidence that was wrongfully obtained. As a last resort, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois 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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