Man Drives Car Off White Ferry in DC – Charged with DUI
Man Drives Car Off White Ferry in DC – Charged with DUI. According to a recent news feature from NBC News, a man in Washington, DC has been arrested for drunk driving after he allegedly drove his car through a locked metal gate on White Ferry and ended up in the Potomac River.

Authorities say the accident occurred around 1:30 in the morning. Read more..
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Mom, I got arrested: Fake ID's and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor - Common Underage Drinking Offenses in Washington D.C.
Mom, I got arrested: Fake ID's and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor - Common Underage Drinking Offenses in Washington D.C.. The District of Columbia, like all 50 states and territories in the United States, set the legal drinking age of 21.  Before the age of 21, you can drive, vote, buy a lottery ticket, and even join the military but you cannot legally drink alcohol. Read more..
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The Waiting Game: Leaving After Colliding In DC
The Waiting Game: Leaving After Colliding In DC. In the constant hustle and bustle of traffic within the District of Columbia, fender benders are commonplace.  Accidents happen because people are prone to basic human error. Read more..
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DC Police Captain Arrested for DUI
DC Police Captain Arrested for DUI. Drunk driving in Washington, DC is a crime and there is no denying that.  However, even judges will say that unlike other DC criminal offenses, people seem to think it is okay to drive drunk since everyone does, even though that is not a valid excuse. Read more..
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I Know I Passed the Field Sobriety Tests in Washington, DC
I Know I Passed the Field Sobriety Tests in Washington, DC. Many people come in for a DUI defense consult and tell me that they know they passed the field sobriety tests, yet the cops arrested them anyway.  Before we get to what it means to pass the tests, it is important to understand what these tests are and why they matter. Read more..
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Field Sobriety Tests are given by police officers to a suspected drunk driver.  There are many tests that may come to mind such as saying the alphabet backwards, touching your hand to your nose and so on, but here are only three real field sobriety tests that have any chance of being considered reliable.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) has developed 3 Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs).  Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD), US Park Police, and US Capitol Police who are responsible for DUI, DWI, and OWI arrests in the District are required to be trained and certified in these tests.  The tests must be performed exactly to rigid uniform standards.  They rarely ever are.

The three SFSTs are as follows:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
  • The Walk and Turn Test
  • The One Legged Stand Test

 

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

A Nystagmus is a medical term for an involuntary trembling or jerking of the eye. It is characterized by alternating smooth pursuit in one direction and rapid jerking in the other direction.
If this test is conducted properly, a Washington, DC officer will hold a pen, light, or other similarly shaped object 12 to 15 inches away from the center of the driver’s face and slowly move the object from side to side.  According to the NHTSA manual, this movement should take 2 seconds to go from center to side.  The amount it is moved to the side should be no more than 45 degrees.  This means that the officer must be able to see the white of person’s eye or they have gone too far.  The officer will check for any signs of involuntary movement or signs of nystagmus. If your eyes begin to jerk prior to reaching 45 degrees, the officer can use that as a clue that you have may have a blood alcohol level of more than .05%.  Once the nystagmus has started, the officer must hold the pen at the “angle of onset” to see if the nystagmus stops as it would in a sober person. 
Of the three SFSTs, this test is considered the most accurate.  It has a reliability score of around 70 percent according to studies.  It is interesting that the police love to quote that number on the witness stand during a Washington, DC DUI trial but have no idea about details of any of these studies. 
When it comes to fighting a HGN test at trial, there is a lot that a skilled drunk driving defense lawyer can do.  The officer can be questioned on whether they followed all the instructions properly when administering the test.  They can also be questioned on whether they conducted a proper medical interview prior to giving this field sobriety test.  There are a lot reasons for having a gaze nystagmus that has nothing to with alcohol consumption. Some medications will cause a resting nystagmus that a careless officer may mistake for intoxication.  Some people always have a gaze nystagums.  The cop is not an eye doctor after all.  They may have scored the test incorrectly.  After conducting a thorough investigation, your lawyer may have a variety of ways to attack the credibility of a failed HGN test.

The Walk and Turn Test

Washington, DC police officers are required to conduct this test on a dry, hard, non slippery, flat surface with sufficient room for the suspected drunk driver to walk.
When conducting the walk and turn test, the suspect is instructed to complete nine heel-to-toe steps on a visible or imaginary line. The driver must then make a special turn to the left and take nine heel-to-toe steps back.  The officer will try to observe any hints or clues of intoxication such as:

  • Failing to follow the line
  • Starting while the officer is still giving instructions
  • Heel and toe not touching
  • Stopping before the test is complete
  • Incorrect turn

This test is considered less reliable than an HGN test.  People with disabilities, physical impairments, old age or who are overweight may not be able to perform this test under any condition.  The officer is also required to give very clear instructions and demonstrate this test property.  This is often not done, and even on the witness stand, an officer may have difficulty giving proper instructions.  If they didn’t tell you what to do, how can you blamed for doing it incorrectly?  There are also certain things they need to do like give a woman in high heels the opportunity to remove her shoes.

One Legged Stand Test

In order to perform this test, it is required to be performed on a level, dry and non slippery surface. The suspect will be instructed to raise one foot while counting out loud for as many as thirty seconds.
When performing this test, the officer must be at least three feet away and remain motionless as possible to not interfere with the suspect. From a distance the officer will observe for any clues of intoxication such as:

  • Swaying while balancing
  • The use of arms for balance
  • Hopping on one foot to maintain balance
  • Unable to maintain posture

People who have physical disabilities, are overweight or are old of age can have a difficult time performing the tasks required. Another issue is that police are supposed to turn off the cruiser lights so as not to distract the suspected drunk driver.  They rarely do.
Always remember that an arrest is not a conviction.

To discuss your options and a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross. Call (202) 596-5716 or contact us online.