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Field Sobriety Tests: Know What to Expect

If an officer pulls you over and suspects that you have been drinking and driving, he will ask you to perform any number of field sobriety tests. These are meant to help the officer confirm that you are intoxicated.

Before you take any of these tests, it is important that you understand they are not mandatory. You can ask to opt out of them if you would prefer; however, this may only serve to confirm an officer’s suspicion that you were guilty of DUI. Still, you are not required to take a field sobriety test. Here is a brief overview of what you will face in a field sobriety test.

What type of tests should I expect?

If you agree to a field assessment, you can expect one of three main tests. The first is the horizontal gaze nystagmus, in which an officer will pass an object in front of your face and study your ability to track the object with your eyes. If your eyes jerk or tremble, the officer may conclude that you have been physiologically impaired by intoxicants.

Because this test is not conclusive, the officer will likely ask you to perform the walk and turn test and/or the stand on one leg test. If you perform the walk and turn test, you will have to walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe, for twelve steps. If you are asked to perform the stand on one leg test, you will have to hold one leg in the air for thirty seconds. In both cases, the officer will determine whether or not to arrest you based on your apparent DUI status. Other tests may include reciting the alphabet, counting, or standing straight.

Because field tests are based on observation, they are not always accurate. In fact, they can be made more difficult by individual circumstances, including the grade and texture of the ground you have to perform each test on. Fortunately, these tests are required to be recorded by an officer and may be used to support your case if the proper procedure wasn’t followed. If you were charged with DUI, you should seek the guidance of an attorney. My name is Andrew Farley, and I have the experience needed to take your case on. Contact my firm, The Farley Law Firm, LLC, to learn how I can help.