How can Massachusetts police test if a person is drunk driving?

We all dread it -- driving home after having a couple of alcoholic drinks at a party because a designated driver ran off, and the rearview mirror shows blue and red flashing lights behind us. Even a Massachusetts driver cannot be sure what their blood alcohol concentration is, so how will a police officer figure it out? By using one of the field sobriety tests at their disposal.

Though we have all heard of Breathalyzers, field sobriety tests actually precede them and are used by police officers to observe the suspected drunk driver's attention level, physical ability and balance, along with other factors to determine if someone is drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration endorses three standardized field sobriety tests: the walk and turn, the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus.

The walk and turn test requires the alleged drunk driver to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, in a straight line in both directions and tests the person's ability to complete tasks with undivided attention. An individual is required to stand for 30 seconds with one foot around six inches off the ground in the one-leg stand test and demonstrates balance. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is when officers observe suspects for jerky eye movement an inability to follow a moving object smoothly and eye jerking within 45 degrees of center.

Put together, these tests are considered to be accurate 91 percent of the time as gauges of alcohol impairment. However, they are not 100 percent conclusive and can be challenged in court in order to avoid the life changing impact of a DUI conviction.

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