You were stopped under suspicion of drunk driving. The officer asked you to take field sobriety tests, and since you didn’t have much to drink, you agreed. To your surpise, you failed the tests and were arrested.

What happened? What can you do?

In many cases, you might have been more intoxicated than you thought. But sometimes, other factors may have hurt your performance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standards for giving field sobriety tests. If the tests are not performed according to these standards, you may be able to challenge your arrest.

In Illinois, the three most common field sobriety tests are: 1) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), 2) the One-Leg Stand and 3) the Walk and Turn test. Judges generally disregard the HGN, while paying close attention to the other two tests.

The NHTSA advises that these tests should be performed on a reasonably, dry, level, non-slippery surface. A recent Illinois case struck down an arrest where tests were given on a wet surface in the rain. See People v Day. The Walk and Turn also requires enough room to take nine heel-to-toe steps.

The tests are not considered reliable for people over age 65. If you are wearing heels higher than two inches, you should be allowed to remove your shoes. The One-Leg stand may be more difficult if you have back, leg or inner ear problems or are more than 50 pounds overweight. The Walk and Turn requires enough room to take nine heel-to-toe steps.

If you are charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If the tests were improper, an attorney may petition the court to suppress the arrest. Note that the court may still look at other evidence such as your driving to determine if there was probable cause for your arrest.

Even if the tests were proper and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can 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 matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(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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