What field sobriety tests are most common?

You’ve likely seen a movie in which someone stopped by police for drinking and driving is asked to touch his or her nose with a fingertip, recite the alphabet backwards or simply count the number of fingers the officer holds up. These field sobriety tests are not as common as you might think, though. There are three part of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test that is endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Those three parts are:

— The One-Leg Stand: This test requires the person to raise one foot six inches off the ground and count for 30 seconds. The police officer is looking for signs of possible impairment such as using the arms for balance, putting the foot down or hopping and swaying while trying to balance.

— The Walk and Turn: The person is required to walk nine steps forward, heel-to-toe, in a straight line. He or she then must turn around on one foot and repeat it back the opposite way. The officer is looking for how well the tasks are completed when the subject’s attention is divided.

— The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The officer looks for exaggerated jerking in the eye that occurs when someone is under the influence of alcohol. There are three indicators in this test that officers look for: a subject’s inability to smoothly follow a moving object, distinct eye jerking when the is at maximum deviations and the eye-jerking begins within 45 degree of center.

If you are facing a charge of drinking and driving, an attorney can help you determine how to proceed. He or she will examine how the field sobriety tests and the Breathalyzer or blood tests were done to see if your rights were violated. It may be possible to challenge the results of these tests.

Source: FindLaw, “Field Sobriety Tests,” accessed June 14, 2016

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