field sobriety tests

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Up to 90 percent of the time a field sobriety test is given, an officer can successfully determine if a person is intoxicated. However, if you have never been pulled over, or don’t know much about this testing process, you may not understand how it works.

Don’t worry, we are here to provide you with a bit of insight on field sobriety tests. After all, information is power. You can also avoid potentially undesirable situations when you know what to expect when pulled over for DUI.

The Basics of the Field Sobriety Testing Process

A field sobriety test, which is often called a roadside sobriety test, is used for enforcing DUI laws. These are typically given before an office administers a breathalyzer test, which is used to calculate BAC.

The field sobriety test consists of three parts and given when someone is stopped and suspected of being drunk or impaired. The tests allow the officer to observe your attention level, physical ability, balance, and other factors to figure out if you are, in fact, driving under the influence.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

There are three basic field sobriety tests given today. They include:

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

This is a term that refers to the eye when it jerks involuntarily. It occurs when your eye gazes to the size.

However, if a person is impaired by alcohol, then the jerking (nystagmus) is more exaggerated. Officers will look for three indications of impairment in each of your eyes. These include:

  • The inability for you to follow a moving object smoothly
  • Eye jerking within a space of 45 degrees of the center
  • Clear eye jerking when the eye is at the max deviation

This is the test given first in most cases. If you fail this test, the officer will move on to others.

Walk and Turn

This test is one that can be done easily by anyone who is not impaired. It tests your ability to complete a task with your attention divided.

The test includes you taking nine steps, heel-to-toe, on a straight line, then turning on one foot and returning the same way, the other direction.

One Leg Stand

This test requires you to stand with one of your feet about six inches off of the ground and to count for 30 seconds. Putting your foot down, hopping, using your arms for balance, or swaying while trying to balance are all possible signs of impairment.

If you fail each of the above-mentioned tests, the officer will likely move on to the breathalyzer test.

Pass orf Fail

Some claim that the field sobriety tests used today are somewhat subjective; however, the breathalyzer provides a more concrete answer regarding your intoxication level. The best thing you can do is understand the process to know what to expect if you are ever in this situation.

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