A Redwood City DUI Lawyer Discusses Non-Standardized Sobriety Testing

Posted on October 25, 2013

One-legged Stance Test

An officer may conduct field sobriety tests during a routine drunk driving stop if an officer suspects the driver of intoxication. Generally, the officer administers some standardized field sobriety tests that evaluate the driver’s physical and cognitive state. Not all of the tests are standard, however. In such case, your Redwood City DUI attorney may be able to use information from the tests in your defense.

A Redwood City DUI Lawyer on Non-Standardized Tests

The standardized field sobriety tests are the One Leg Stand, the Walk and Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. However, there may be situations where an officer may administer some non-standardized field sobriety tests. Below are some of examples of non-standardized tests. To gain a thorough understanding of all the various tests, you should contact an experienced Redwood City DUI attorney.

Hand Pat Described by a Redwood City DUI Attorney

The hand pat test requires that the driver place one hand in front of him, palm side up. The opposite hand, palm side down, is then placed on top. When told to begin, the driver takes the top hand, pats the bottom hand once (so that both palms are touching), and then rotates his hand to pat the bottom hand with the back of the top hand.

The driver then continues to pat bottom the hand with the top hand, alternating between tapping with the palm of the top hand and tapping with the back of the hand, until the officer tells the driver to stop. Note that the bottom hand should be stationary the entire time, while the top hand is the only hand moving. The driver will be told during the test to increase the tapping and rotation speed until a rapid pace is reached.

As a Redwood City DUI attorney will tell you, this test is considered by some to be designed to induce failure because many of the test subjects, even if they are sober, will eventually make a mistake as the speed increases. Instead of making a clean pat on each rotation, the subject might make a chop, roll, or double tap.

Picking up Coins Explained by a Redwood City DUI Attorney

If an officer chooses to administer the picking up coins test, he will ask the driver to pick up coins on a flat surface (e.g. the road or car hood) with a single hand. One way that the test could be administered is for the officer to place several different coins on the road. The driver would then be instructed to pick up whatever coin the officer calls out (e.g., dime, nickel, or penny). Because this test has not been scientifically supported with evidence confirming its accuracy at predicting sobriety, it is rarely used.


While rarely performed nowadays, a handwriting test could still be administered to test for intoxication. In theory, intoxication should result in erratic penmanship. While some research has shown that changes in handwriting can be observed at any level of alcohol consumption, the alterations in handwriting cannot be attributed to alcohol consumption alone. For instance, nervousness, pressure, or speed may also contribute to changes in handwriting. Like the other aforementioned tests, most research does not support the conclusion that the handwriting test is an accurate indicator of intoxication.

Work with an Experienced Redwood City DUI Lawyer

If you have been arrested and charged with drunk driving, contact a Redwood City DUI attorney at Silveira Law for a consultation. Call (415) 795-3890 today.