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Finger to Nose Field Sobriety Test

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Finger to Nose Field Sobriety Test

Hi I’m attorney Kevin Hayslett, and the question is what is the finger to nose test and is it a standardized field sobriety test. Well NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration several years ago attempted to standardize field sobriety test. This means that they wanted to make sure that all the tests are given the same in every jurisdiction to those who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. It used to be that every jurisdiction conducted it a little bit differently. In their attempt to standardized field sobriety testing, they determined that there are 3 tests that should be given and therefore are the standardized field sobriety tests which are applicable to every DUI, DWI, or OUI investigation. 

The finger to nose test used to be standardized, but now it is considered an alternative test to the one leg stand and the walk and turn test. Alternative tests are to be used in certain situations. There are also situations that they consider a finger to nose test should be given in.
 
The finger to nose test should be used under the following circumstances:
1.    When the person is over the age of 65
2.    When the person is over weight
3.    When the person has certain physical problems.

The finger to nose test is preferred over tests that judge balance and dexterity when certain physical conditions are present. Certain physical problems can make it difficult to judge if they did a walk and turn or a one leg stand test properly. The finger to nose test should be administered in a standardized fashion meaning the law enforcement officer should read a script or have memorized the instructions. The finger to nose test conducted in a standardized way, means the same way every time; this should be the same for the one leg stand and the walk and turn also. 

In the finger to nose test what happens is that the law enforcement officer will instruct the person to stand with his feet side by side. He well then instruct the person to take their index fingers and put them out to the side. Then in a series of commands, will ask them to bring either the right or left hand forward and then touch the tip of their finger to the tip of their nose. One of things the law enforcement is going to be looking for is whether or not the tip of the finger touches the tip of the nose as opposed to the pad of the finger or not the tip of the nose such as the sides. 

The problem with the finger to nose test and the reason why it is not standardized is because for the person viewing the video footage of someone performing the test, it is difficult to see if the person’s tip of the finger touches the tip of the nose. However it is a generally accepted alternative test to determine an impairment. Besides determining whether or not the tip of the finger touches the tip of the nose; they want to make sure the correct hand is used. Usually during the cadence and the request to touch with either the right or left hand, the law enforcement officer will go left, right, left, right, left, left, right, right or something in that fashion to determine if the person who was suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol follows directions.

The law enforcement officer is looking for the following:
1.    If you are using the correct hand
2.    Whether or not the eyes are closed
3.    Whether or not that person sways from side to side
4.    Did the finger touch the tip of the nose or did they use the pad of the finger on the side of the face? 
5.    Were the count and hands correct?

If there are more than 2 decisions points again using NHTSA, National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, that person has not passed that test. Recall that most jurisdictions do not allow the law enforcement officer to come into court and say that the person just passed or failed it; they must give examples of whether or not that person complied with the instructions and what instructions were given.

 

 

 

The criminal defense attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. are fighting for our clients rights in criminal defense cases in ClearwaterTampaBradentonSpring Hill, Pinellas, Pasco, New Port Richey, Manatee, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties in Florida.

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J. Kevin Hayslett

Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.