What is the walk-and-turn test?

You may have heard people in California reference field sobriety tests and wonder exactly what types of things are tested and how these tests are administered. One of the standardized tests is called the walk-and-turn test. As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, this test alone is considered to have an accuracy rate of 66 percent.

In this test, an officer must first give you instructions and personally demonstrate what you are asked to do. One thing that can work against you in this test is if you do not keep yourself balanced while you are listening to the instructions. Another potential probiem is any premature commencement of the test before you are officially instructed to begin. When taking the test, you are supposed to walk a certain number of steps in heel-to-toe fashion, turn in a specific manner and walk that same number of steps back to your original starting point.

When executing the test, if you move your arms away from your side such as to help yourself balance or if you do not turn properly, your chance of passing the test may diminish. You should also not stop taking steps but keep moving through the entire test. Maintaining a strict alignment of heel to toe with each step is another requirement for passing the test.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give Californai residents an overview of one of the three standardized field sobriety tests that can be used in a drunk driving arrest.

The one-legged stand field sobriety test

Have you been arrested and charged with drunk driving in California? If so, you know how scary the whole experience can be? Upon seeing flashing lights behind you, it’s not uncommon for a person’s heart rate to increase and a general level of nervousness and fear sets in. This type of emotional response can understandably make even the most basic tasks difficult to execute. When asked to participate in a field sobriety test, your ability to pass these tests may be compromised with or without alcohol.

In fact, FieldSobrietyTests.org indicates that the one-legged stand test alone is only 65-percent accurate in determining intoxication in a driver. When administering this or any other field sobriety test, an officer must follow strict guidelines as developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Evaluating your test process can be an important part of your defense.

One thing an officer is required to do is to demonstrate the one-legged stand test while giving instructions. You should then be asked to confirm if you understand before being instructed to perform the test yourself. You can be considered to have failed the test if at least two things are noted during the procedure: you place your raised foot on the ground, you hop, you use your arms to maintain balance or you sway.

If you would like to learn more about the one-legged stand test during a drunk driving arrest process, please feel free to visit the field sobriety test page of our California criminal defense website.

4 reasons you could appear drunk when you’re not

Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s an odd day when you’re pulled over for no reason. If you were accused of driving while drunk but know you didn’t have anything to drink, several explanations are possible. Certain medical conditions affect the way you act and appear. Your balance, speech or other movements may appear intoxicated.

1. You have Wilson’s disease

Relatively unheard of, this rare condition allows copper to build up in the blood. This results in damage to the liver. Since the body can’t remove toxins as effectively due to the build up, you appear intoxicated. This condition requires medical treatment, and it’s usually diagnosed at a young age. Left untreated, it’s life threatening and may lead to death.

2. You could have diabetes

Teens sometimes suffer from diabetes, and many may not know they have it. Diabetes makes it hard to control the blood sugar levels in the body, because the pancreas no longer produces insulin or does not produce enough insulin. Diabetes sometimes causes a person’s breath to smell like acetone or fruit, and it can cause dizziness, mania, hostility, disorientation, sudden mood changes and other medical problems.

When the blood sugar is too low, it causes confusion or can result in a loss of consciousness. When it’s too high, seizures, anger, aggression and other actions are possible as the body tries to eliminate the extra sugar from its system.

3. Your epilepsy is flaring up

Epilepsy is a condition in which the electrical activities of the brain become abnormal. This causes seizures. Seizures come in a number of forms, with some being general and others producing only partial symptoms. For example, a partial seizure could cause anger or aggressiveness, while a generalized seizure could cause falling, contorted limbs or a loss of consciousness. Even in the aftermath of a seizure, an individual may appear confused or disoriented.

4. You’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury

Much like epilepsy, the brain does not always work correctly following a brain injury. A traumatic brain injury potentially causes symptoms such as dizziness, tremors, the inability to focus, slurred speech or hallucinations. The brain works harder when you are active, which makes these symptoms more prominent.

Fortunately, a medical condition that appears like intoxication is not intoxication, and a breath test or blood test can reveal your sobriety. After treating your medical condition, your attorney can help you if the DUI charge is still pending.

Defining the difference between infractions and misdemeanors

Those in Encino who watch courtroom dramas or listen to legal stories on the local news may often be inundated with legal terms that, while they may think they understand their meaning, they do not fully comprehend their application. One such term is “misdemeanor.” Most may associate misdemeanors with felonies in that each classifies a category of crimes, with felony offenses being more serious. This may lead people to assume that any minor crime or offense is a misdemeanor. However, there is third recognized category of offenses: infractions.

The Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles defines an infraction as a crime not punishable by imprisonment that can typically be processed through the county clerk’s office. At the same time, it recognizes a misdemeanor to be an offense punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or one year of jail time. Additionally, a misdemeanor offense may also require the payment of restitution to those affected by the action.

According to Los Angeles County Code, violations of its Traffic Code constitute infractions that carry with them the following schedule of fines:

  •          $50 for a first conviction
  •          $100 for a second conviction within the same year as the first
  •          $250 for a third or subsequent conviction within the same time frame

This is not to say that all traffic offenses are viewed as infractions. Serious issues may end up being treated as misdemeanors by the court. These may include actions such as reckless driving or operating a vehicle with a suspended license or no license at all. Those convicted of misdemeanor offenses may be able to have their records cleared of them after a certain time provided they meet the qualifications set by the state. 

What are the legal consequences of underage drinking and driving?

If you have been caught drinking and driving in California and are under the legal age of consumption, then you will face stiff penalties from the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is important to understand that the DMV notes whatever underage drinking penalties it imposes are in addition to anything that may be imposed by the court.

When you are pulled over or otherwise caught driving under the influence of alcohol as a minor, you cannot have a blood alcohol content of 0.01 percent or more. If you are at or over that percentage, you will immediately lose your license. Do note that if you refuse to take a BAC test that it will result in you immediately losing your license as if you failed the test. In either case, the officer in charge will take your license from you at the scene. He or she will then give you a temporary license. This temporary license can be used for 30 days. The officer may also give you a suspension/revocation order or one will be mailed to you. This will outline the terms of your suspension as imposed by the DMV, including the effective date.

The DMV will review the officer’s report and any evidence to determine if the suspension will stand. You can request a hearing within 10 days if you would like to fight the suspension. If no evidence is found to support the findings of the officer by the DMV, then the suspension will be lifted.  Otherwise, to get your license back after a suspension, you have to provide proof of insurance and carry that insurance for three years. You must also pay a $100 fee to the DMV. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.