Strategic Defense
From A Former Prosecutor

4 types of field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2022 | Drunk Driving

Police officers are equipped with several tools to deal with drivers who may have been drinking or using a substance. Most police will use a breathalyzer to determine if someone will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Officers may also decide to use a standardized field sobriety test (SFST) to decide on a DUI charge.

Here’s what an officer might ask you to do:

Horizontal gaze SFST

A horizontal gaze test is done by having the driver follow an officer’s finger or flashlight with their eyes while keeping their head still. This test is to see if the suspect can keep their vision focused. People who are impaired by alcohol or another substance may have a hard time following directions – but so can people with certain neurological disorders or even anxiety.

Walk-and-turn SFST

An officer may ask a driver to do a walk-and-turn test. This test required a suspect to walk in a straight line, turn and follow the line back where they started. Officers judge whether the suspect was able to stay on the line – even though someone could have trouble because of back problems and other medical conditions.

One-legged stand SFST

A one-legged stand test has a driver stand on one leg for a short duration. They may lose their balance or be unable to follow the test at all if they are drunk. Officers may decide if the driver was or wasn’t able to follow directions for this test – even though anybody with a balance problem or simple fatigue could fail the test.

Non-standardized field sobriety tests

Police aren’t restricted to these three tests. Officers may know other tests to determine if someone will be charged with a DUI. These are non-standardized field sobriety tests – and their use is always questionable because it’s not always clear what they judge.

Many of these SFSTs can have false results because of a disability or impairment that prevents them from following instructions. You may need to know your options if you believe you’ve been falsely accused of a DUI charge.