A Redwood City DUI Lawyer Discusses Divided Attention Issues

Posted on September 12, 2013

Walk-and-Turn Test

Because competent driving demands use of a wide stratum of skills, a field sobriety test for a potential DUI violation usually includes some tests reflective of the driver’s ability to balance all of the mental and physical demands driving requires. A Redwood City DUI attorney can give you a full picture of the steps involved in conducting the test.

Driving is a complex example of multi-tasking. To safely operate a motor vehicle, you must simultaneously use visual, auditory, hand/eye coordinative, and equilibrium skills, and divide your attention between road movement, merging traffic, obstacles, feedback from in-car instruments, and a host of other potential distractions. As a Redwood City DUI attorney will tell you, a driver who is under the influence thus will have a more difficult time maneuvering the car successfully. This is not to say that this fact applies in every instance; therefore, your attorney will examine the tests to determine whether they were administered appropriately in order to develop a possible defense.

A Redwood City DUI Attorney Discusses Reasons for Interrogation

As a Redwood City DUI lawyer can tell you, the officer stopping a vehicle will engage the driver in conversation to gauge his demeanor and look for signs of intoxication; these may include slurred speech, a breath odor of alcohol and a lack of focus on the questions asked by the officer. If the driver seems unable to understand the questions that are asked, or gives responses that are non sequiturs, this can be an indication of possible intoxication. If the driver has a speech impediment or a problem hearing speech at a normal conversational level, the examining officer(s) should be told.

There are standard questions that every officer is likely to use when conversing with a motorist to see whether there are indications of DUI. These include requiring the driver to state his name and address, the date and time of the stop and (most important) why the motorist was stopped. A Redwood City DUI attorney can determine whether questions you were asked are inappropriate.

A Redwood City DUI Attorney on Caveats for Testing Drivers with Physical Limitations

Well-trained officers have been taught to ask about any physical impairment that would preclude using a particular field sobriety test. The questioning and observation process should reveal whether the driver has any physical limitations which would make performing certain types of field tests difficult. For example, a driver with a hip or knee impairment may not be able to perform a leg balancing exercise. If the driver does have such physical limitations, a Redwood City DUI attorney may be able to successfully argue that the tests did not measure intoxication.

Divided Attention Tests

Asking a driver to simultaneously perform two or more tasks simultaneously may be used to determine whether the driver evidences alcohol impairment. Generally, performance of multiple tasks at the same time becomes more difficult with alcohol use; this becomes of importance in measuring the drivers overall ability to drive safely.

There are a variety of such divided attention tests. Among the most common are:

  • A one-leg stand test, requiring balancing on one foot while counting aloud
  • A walk-and-turn test, requiring the driver to perform a physical task (walking) while listening to and understanding complex instructions (turning or shifting direction)
  • Requesting two separate things simultaneously (e.g., driver’s license and registration)
  • Interrupting the response to a question with a different, unrelated question
Contact a Redwood City DUI Lawyer for Assistance with Your Case

Whatever specific situations have presented themselves during field sobriety testing, Redwood City DUI attorney Mike Silveira can help you understand and deal with them. Call him today for a consultation at (415) 795-3890.