If you are stopped in Omaha by a law enforcement officer and the officer has reason to believe that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer will eventually ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests, or FSTs. Although there are an infinite number of FSTs that the officer could ask you to perform, only three are considered “standardized”. Those three include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, or HGN, the one-leg stand, and the walk and turn, also referred to as the “heel to toe” test.
As you may have seen on television, an officer can ask a motorist to perform all sorts of tests used to determine if the motorist is under the influence. Reciting the alphabet backwards, touching your nose, or leaning your head back without falling are some of the various “tests” officers use; however, these are not officially sanctioned by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, or NHTSA. Only the HGN, one-leg stand, and walk and turn are approved by the NHTSA. Of those three, the “heel to toe” is the most complicated test to perform and, therefore, is frequently “failed” by motorists.
According to the NHTSA, for the walk and turn test the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the suspect must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. This sounds simple; however, even a completely sober driver can easily misunderstand the directions or fail to properly execute the correct turn as a result of simple nerves. The officer is supposed to look for eight specific indications of impairment in the test subject:
- Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions
- Begins before the instructions are finished
- Stops while walking to regain balance
- Does not touch heel-to-toe
- Steps off the line
- Uses arms to balance
- Makes an improper turn
- Takes an incorrect number of steps
The NHTSA claims that the heel to toe test is about 70 percent accurate in determining whether a test subject has a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, over the legal limit.
If you have specific questions about your Omaha DUI case, consult with an experienced Omaha DUI attorney
as soon as possible. For a free case evaluation, contact Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180.