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Standard Field Sobriety Tests in Hawaii

Field sobriety tests are used to determine probable cause to arrest a driver for OVII. Even though an officer can use a field sobriety test to determine probable cause, it can not be used as definitive evidence of a driver’s blood alcohol level. Chemical analysis or other approved analytical techniques of the driver’s blood or breath is competent evidence.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) refers to the lateral or horizontal jerking when the eye gazes to the side. If a driver is impaired by alcohol consumption or other impairments, the ability of the brain to correctly control eye muscles will cause the jerk or bounce in the eye. HGN test results are admissible as substantive evidence of a driver being intoxicated. However, it must be shown that the officer was duly qualified to conduct the test. The officer must have met the training requirements of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the officer went through the complete training program.

The officer can also issue the “stand on one leg” test. This will measure the driver’s balance. Usually the officer will ask the driver to raise one foot six inches off the ground while keeping their arms at the side. Once in that position, the driver must then count out loud to 30 before putting their foot back down. The officer is looking for any clues that the driver is intoxicated. If the officer witnesses any excessive swaying, using arms for balance, hopping to maintain balance or putting their foot down, it could be a sign that the driver is under an intoxicant.

The “walk and turn” test is another field sobriety test. The driver is asked to take a specified number of steps from heel-to-toe along a straight line. After completing the steps, the driver will be asked to turn on one foot and return in the same way along the original path. The officer will look if the driver can’t maintain balance, if the driver takes the incorrect number of steps or if they use their arms to balance.


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