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What are the different standardized field sobriety tests?

Like other states, Maryland has a low tolerance for driving under the influence. Those who are stopped on suspicion of driving drunk will likely have to perform one or more field sobriety tests to prove that they are sober enough to drive safely. The police rely on sobriety tests to confirm their suspicions about the driver. In other words, a police officer cannot simply arrest you for DUI if you “look drunk.” He or she must make every attempt to determine if you exhibit the recognized signs of intoxication to establish probable cause for arresting you.

One of the most common field sobriety tests is called horizontal gaze testing. Police officers are looking for a very specific type of eye movement like jerking, and alcohol makes this movement more pronounced. For example, if the driver cannot visually track an object in motion, the police officer may have reason to believe the driver is impaired.

Another common field sobriety test is known as the walk-and-turn. A police officer provides the driver with a very specific set of instructions. Typically, the driver is instructed to walk in a straight line heel-to-toe, turn on one foot and then return to the starting point. The police officer may suspect DUI if the driver cannot follow these instructions.

Finally, a person suspected of DUI may be asked to perform the one-leg stand test. It is pretty self-explanatory and involves the driver standing on one leg for 30 seconds. The other leg must be kept about six inches from the ground for the test’s duration. If the driver sways, puts the other foot down or otherwise cannot complete the test, the police officer may make an arrest.

If you are concerned about the validity of your own field sobriety test, it is a good idea to start thinking about defending yourself against DUI allegations.

Source: FindLaw, “Field Sobriety Tests,” accessed Oct. 25, 2016

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