Van Severen Law Office defends individuals accused of DWI and OWI throughout Wisconsin
If you’re charged with operating while intoxicated in Wisconsin, you may have encountered a law enforcement enforcement officer who has completed the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program. The purpose of the ARIDE program, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is to train officers to “observer, identify, and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both in order to reduce the number of impaired driving incidents, serious injury, and fatal crashes. ARIDE bridges the gap between standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) and drug recognition expert (DRE) courses. Officers are provided a level of awareness regarding drug impairment in the context of traffic safety.
At Van Severen Law Office, our defense attorneys regularly defend individuals facing OWI and DWI charges filed in connection to intoxicated driving. Those intoxicated drivers are usually under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. Contact Van Severen Law Office at (414) 270-0202 to discuss your drunk driving charges.
Why did I take additional field sobriety tests?
Specific field sobriety tests indicate an officer’s Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement certification. Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN), Lack of Convergence (LOC), and the Modified Romberg Balance test are all used by law enforcement officers. Officers use these tests when they believe the driver is impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol. If standardized field sobriety tests alone are administered, the officer likely lacks training or simply believes you were operating under the influence of alcohol alone.
What are the additional tests?
- Vertical Gaze Nystagmus
- Lack of Convergence
- Modified Romberg Balance
Vertical Gaze Nystagmus
Typically the law enforcement officer holds a small stimulus (like a penlight) approximately 12-15 inches in front of the driver’s nose. Then the officer tells the driver to hold his head still and follow the stimulus with his eyes alone. Subsequently, the officer moves the stimulus up and down. Lastly, the officer looks for three clues while administering the test:
- Problems following the stimulus smoothly;
- Distinct nystagmus when the driver is looking all the way up or down; and
- The onset of nystagmus before eyes reach a 45 degree angle.
Intoxication may be one factor that causes nystagmus, but there are a number of neurological and ophthalmological conditions that could cause a person to challenge the test. If we’re looking to challenge this test, retaining and expert in field sobriety tests, or a medical expert, could help us in challenging the test results.
Remember, nystagmus is rapid involuntary movement of the eyes.
Romberg Balance Test
The Romberg balance test is named after a German neurologist, Moritz Heinrich Romberg. The test assesses neurological function based on a simple proposition. Importantly, the Romberg balance test is based on the idea that two of three functions (vision, vestibular function (equilibrium, motion and spatial orientation information provided by the inner ear) and proprioception (knowing how your limbs are oriented) are necessary to maintain balance. Specifically, if an individual is unable to maintain balance, it may be an indication of a neurological problem, or, more relevant, intoxication.
How it works: An officer requests the driver to stand with his feet together, head tilted slightly back and eyes closed. The officer instructs the driver to count to 30 silently. Later, upon completion of 30 seconds, the driver is to say “stop.”
What law enforcement in looking for: There are six clues that indicate intoxication is present:
- Amount and direction of swaying;
- Eyelid/body tremors;
- Failure to properly estimate when 30 seconds has passed;
- Muscle tone;
- Sounds or statements made during the test; and
- The defendant’s inability to follow directions
Lack of Convergence
Lack of convergence is based on a simple idea: an individual cannot cross his eyes when focusing on a stimulus as it is moved towards the bridge of his nose. During setup for the test, the officer informs the driver that he will be moving a stimulus around in a circle, towards the bridge of the driver’s nose. The officer informs the driver that the stimulus will not actually touch his nose. This notice is important: without it, the driver may move his head away.
The subject’s eyes should come together and cross as they track and remained aligned with the stimulus. If the eyes do converge (cross) when the stimulus is approximately two inches from the bridge of the nose, the lack of convergence is “not present.” Lack of convergence is present is one eye, or both eyes, drift away or outward toward the side instead of converging toward the bridge of the nose.
Does LOC test for specific drugs? Certain drug categories usually induce lack of convergence. They include central nervous system depressants, inhalants, dissociative anesthetics, and cannabis.
How does Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement compare to Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC)?
There’s a progression between each of the impaired driving enforcement programs:
- Standardized field sobriety tests are the foundation.
- Advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement is the intermediate level.
- The final stage is the drug evaluation and classification program.
In similar fashion to ARIDE, the DEC program trains officers to be Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to help prevent crashes and avoid deaths and injuries by improving enforcement of drug impaired driving investigations. DRE training requires 72 hours of classroom training, field certifications, a comprehensive final knowledge examination, and participation in continuing education classes.
Contact Van Severen Law Office immediately if arrested for drunk driving, OWI, or DWI
To conclude, the drunk driving defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office understand field sobriety tests and how to challenge them. If you’re facing an OWI or DWI due to drunk driving, drugged driving, or both, contact us at (414) 270-0202. Our defense attorneys work around the clock defending individuals facing charges just like yours. In any event, we answer phones 24/7. Even if arrested on the weekend or after traditional business hours, do not hesitate to call.