What exactly is a field sobriety test?

It is well known that excessive consumption of alcohol leads to serious side effects that can affect the way a person drives a car. The United States government is well aware of this, and has strict driving while under the influence laws, or DUI, in place to dissuade people from drinking and driving and to punish those who are caught behind the wheel after having had too much to drink.

It is not always easy for police officers to find drunk drivers on the road, but if they do pull someone over and suspect that they may have had too much to drink, there are several things they could do to prove the driver is intoxicated including giving the driver a breath test or a field sobriety test. A breath test will determine a driver's Blood/Alcohol Content level, or BAC level. A field sobriety test, on the other hand, is a series of three tests done by police officers to check a driver's sobriety.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test was created by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a way to create a uniform and familiar format that can determine, with a strong degree of accuracy, a person's level of intoxication. It consists of three parts, a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a walk and turn test, and a one leg stand test. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is done by an officer watching a suspect's eyes as they move from side to side. Involuntary jerking of the eyes is common, but this may become severely exaggerated for those who have had too much to drink.

The walk and turn test is performed by asking a suspect to walk in a straight line, from heel to toe for thirty paces back and forth. We know that motor skills are often compromised for those who are inebriated, so it may be easy to see that a driver is drunk if he or she is unable to perform this task. Last is the one leg stand, which asks a driver to stand on one leg with the other leg suspended and hold that position for thirty seconds. Since one's balance can be off if they are drunk, this too could be an indication that someone is DUI, and could be grounds for an arrest.

These tests, however, must be conducted properly for the results to hold any water. Seeking proper legal representation can examine the results of the tests and determine if any errors were made during the examinations or arrest, possibly opening legal options.

Source: AAA, "Standardized Field Sobriety Test," Accessed on July 11, 2017

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