The Law Office of


(619) 326-8161
The Law Office of


(619) 326-8161
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Judge's Assistant and Deputy District Attorney
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Field Sobriety Tests


If you were given Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) prior to your arrest, they must have been performed correctly in order for the results of those tests to provide a lawful foundation to support a lawful arrest of you.

Even if the officer who originally “detained” you had sufficient articulable facts to support the lawfulness of that initial “investigative detention”, the officer usually needs even more articulable facts/evidence over and above those in order to make his/her “arrest” of you a “lawful” arrest. Basically the same minimal amount of facts the officer can list that can support a lawful “detention” are not the same, and below the level of, the facts needed to perform an “arrest”.

If it can be shown that (either the initial detention was unlawful, or) the evidence obtained during the officer’s investigative detention could not support a lawful “arrest”, then all evidence obtained as a result of that unlawful arrest (your blood or breath test results) must be “excluded” and will not be allowed to be admitted as evidence in the prosecution’s case against you. This occurs because of the “exclusionary rule.” When this occurs, unless the prosecution has other evidence to support their case, generally the case against you will be dropped / dismissed.

Attacking the credibility of the FST’s that were administered to you is an extremely difficult task and takes an attorney with unique knowledge and extensive experience sifting through and picking apart the minute details of the tests you were given, as well as factoring in the surrounding circumstances. As an example, did the officer clearly ask you and determine if you were taking any medication that might affect your performance? Did the officer correctly show you how the tests were to be performed prior to asking you to perform them yourself? What were the weather conditions at the time you performed the tests… was it windy… was there traffic or other people close by that might have affected your performance? These are just a few of the many questions an attorney with intimate knowledge of FST’s, like Mr. Sohovich, will want and get, the answers to.

Generally police officers perform a great and valuable service to our communities. However, that being said, in order for the results of FST’s to provide a lawful foundation in order to violate a person’s Fourth Amendment Rights, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has laid-out and codified very detailed and specific requirements with which these tests must be administered. If the tests were not performed in accordance with the specific requirements set-forth by the NHTSA, then the facts that become known to the officer (the person’s performance of the tests) cannot support a lawful arrest and the evidence obtained as a result of that unlawful arrest is excluded. Those with the power to enforce our laws are not infallible, which has led to evidence being excluded and cases being dismissed or convictions reversed. (see Crime Lab Chemist Fakes Test Results)

Chris Sohovich is one of a select few attorneys who has received the same training from NHTSA as the police officers throughout San Diego County have, and is also qualified on administering all standardized Field Sobriety Tests.

Most people stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in San Diego don’t know that field sobriety testing is optional. The police will never tell you that the testing is optional because the test results will be used as evidence against you by the prosecution. You have the right to refuse to submit to any field sobriety test, and refusal does not conflict with the implied consent laws.


The following are the DUI field tests commonly accepted as “scientifically validated” and used by officers during a traffic stop:

  1. Horizontal Gaze (Nystagmus): Officer positions a finger or pen about a foot from a driver’s face, moving it from side to side while watching their eyes for jerking movements.
  2. Walk and turn: Officer instructs a driver to take nine heel-to-toe steps on a line, turn and repeat them back, looking for mistakes or loss of balance.
  3. One-leg stand: Driver stands with heels together, arms against their sides and counts out loud while raising one leg six inches off the ground, testing their balance.

Other, non-standardized field sobriety tests that can be used to support a police officer’s highly subjective opinion that you were driving under the influence can include, the Rhomberg balance test; the finger-to-nose or finger counting test; the hand pat test; the alphabet test, and the backwards count test.

Most people are under the impression that field sobriety tests can determine if a person is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol, but that is not true. In fact the scientist who created the test, Dr. Burns, has stated the tests were never actually designed to determine impairment. In many cases, it has been discovered that people have performed poorly during field sobriety tests for reasons other than intoxication. A person can perform poorly during the field sobriety tests for many reasons, including: slippery road conditions, poor lighting, poor instructions, and medical conditions that impair the person’s coordination.

Whether you have been charged or arrested for a San Diego DUI, Poway DUI, La Mesa DUI, Santee DUI, Mission Valley DUI, Clairemont DUI, Point Loma DUI, La Jolla DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Mira Mesa DUI, Pacific Beach DUI, Del Mar DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Encinitas DUI, Oceanside DUI, Ocean Beach DUI, Escondido DUI, Vista DUI, San Marcos DUI, Carlsbad DUI or El Cajon DUI, if you’re looking for San Diego’s Best DUI Defense Attorney, you must speak with Attorney Chris Sohovich as soon as possible. Attacking DUIs is what we do best.

Contact the Law Office of Chris Sohovich now for a free case evaluation at 619-326-8161.