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Finger-to-Nose Test

The Finger-to-Nose test is one of many field sobriety tests used by California law enforcement officers including members of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), local police officers, or sheriff's deputies who suspect a motorist of driving under the influence. Unfortunately, field sobriety tests such as the finger-to-nose test aren't anything like the tests we took in school - they set the driver up to fail. Police want drivers to believe that by passing the test, the motorist can avoid arrest. However, an officer conducts a field sobriety test only to establish probable cause for an arrest, and to gather evidence for a DUI court case and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). California motorist subjected to a field sobriety test before being arrested for a DUI or DWI should consult with a criminal defense lawyer specializing in DUI defense.

The Law Office of Robert Tayac is an experienced firm of attorneys specializing in DUI defense has defended hundreds of people accused of driving under the influence in California. We invite you to contact the office to schedule an appointment to consult with a DUI lawyer at our San Francisco office.

Field Sobriety TestPolice administer the finger-to-nose test by instructing the driver to tip his or her head back with eyes closed and touch the index finger to the nose. The officer will direct the driver to continue touching the left or right index finger to the nose at random. Police watch for the following clues that the driver is intoxicated: An inability to follow instructions, swaying, muscle tightening or tremors, a lack of depth perception, or an inability to touch finger directly to tip of the nose. The officer also will make a note of any statements made by the driver during the test.

The finger-to-nose test is not a standardized field sobriety test recognized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). It has no objective scoring mechanism and relies solely on the officer's opinion. Because the NHTSA does not endorse the finger-to-nose test as a reliable indicator of mental and physical impairment, it holds less weight in court than a standardized test.

The fact that the finger-to-nose test isn't administered under the best of conditions - it usually takes place by the side of a busy street or freeway, with cars whizzing past - makes it even more unreliable. Drivers are typically extremely nervous after being ordered from their cars. And the officer's interpretation of the driver's performance during this "test" is extremely subjective - some officers do not even conduct the test properly

The stakes are high in a California drunk driving case – motorists face the possibility of jail time, large fines, driver’s license suspensions, mandatory alcohol education classes, and installation of ignition interlock devices. Because the consequences are so severe, it’s important to have qualified legal representation. An experienced California DUI defense lawyer can develop an aggressive strategy to challenge field sobriety test results at DUI criminal court and the California DMV.

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