Field Sobriety Tests

Standardized field sobriety tests are used as a way for police officers to evaluate if a driver is impaired. Guidelines were created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help officers trained by the NHTSA to increase the accuracy in performing and evaluating the tests. Standardized field sobriety tests are typically administered and evaluated at roadside before any actual arrest occurs and usually consist of three tests: horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk and turn, and the one leg stand.HGN is the involuntary eye movement that occurs when the eyes move from side to side. This is also referred to as a pen light test because the officer asks the driver to follow a light with their eyes. After alcohol consumption, the eye twitching is exaggerated and could begin to occur at a lesser degree.The walk and turn and one leg stand are based on the driver’s ability to follow instructions at the same time they are performing simple physical tasks.As these are being performed by the driver, the officer is looking for clues and indicators of impairment based on their NHTSA training. It should be noted that some law enforcement officers do ask the driver to perform other tasks to determine sobriety, which could include reciting the alphabet, counting, close eyes and touch nose, among others.

Field sobriety tests are voluntary, but refusal to submit to a state administered chemical test to determine blood alcohol content could carry serious penalties in addition to any possible criminal charges.

Even though police officers view field sobriety tests as trustworthy to demonstrate a driver’s impairment, the tests can still produce inaccurate results. If you were arrested for DUI and performed any field sobriety tests, there is a chance the tests could be disputed and possibly deemed inadmissible.

Copyright 2015. William C. Head. All Rights Reserved.