Field Sobriety Tests
What Are Field Sobriety Tests?
If you are stopped for suspected drunk driving, the officer will most likely ask you to perform several field sobriety tests to determine whether alcohol has impaired your ability to drive. Some common field sobriety tests are:
- Alcohol / Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The officer holds a pen 12 inches from the driver¿s face and asks the driver to watch the pen as he moves it from side to side at a 45 degree angle. The officer is looking for an involuntary jerking of the eyeball when the pen is as far to the side as possible; the higher the driver¿s blood alcohol content, the more the eyeball is supposed to jerk.
- Standing on One Foot (While Counting): Driver stands on one foot, hands at his side, with the other foot extended. The officer may ask the driver to count at the same time.
- Walking Imaginary Line (Heel to Toe): Driver must walk a straight line, touching the heel of one foot to the toe of the other. The officer may simultaneously give a separate instruction to walk 10 steps forward, turn and then 9 steps back to the starting position, all heel-to-toe.
- Finger-to-Nose: With eyes closed and arms extended, driver touches his nose with his index finger.
- Alternate Clapping: The officer asks the driver to clap the palms of his hands together, then the backs of his hands together, while simultaneously counting.
- Recite the Alphabet: The officer asks the driver to recite the alphabet.
- Bending Forward and Backward with Eyes Closed
- Count Backwards
Are These Tests Reliable?
Generally, yes. However, if a driver has a physical condition affecting his ability to perform these tests (i.e., poor equilibrium, bad back, difficulty walking), the driver should inform the officer before taking the tests. Remove high heels before performing any balancing tests.
A suspected drunk driver may try to challenge the validity of the tests in Court. It is important to remember that police routinely videotape stops, so it is likely that the field sobriety test will also be on tape.
The Alcohol / Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is unreliable and its results have been excluded from many Courts.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My DUI Problem?
If you are arrested for Drunk Driving DUI / DWI, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.
Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
If you are a victim of a Drunk Driving DUI / DWI accident, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer immediately to learn how to get compensation for your injuries.
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Last Modified: 03-31-2011 04:06 PM PDT