Strategic Defense
From A Former Prosecutor

What are standardized field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Drunk Driving

If the police suspect you of drunk driving, then may ask you to do a field sobriety test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses these tests to evaluate the safety of drivers.

There are several tests you may be asked to do. They include:

1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

A horizontal gaze nystagmus test evaluates your eye focus. The eyes will naturally flicker while they focus and unfocus. The more alcohol you drink, then the more your eyes will flicker and lose focus. 

The police conduct this test by having you focus on a single point. This may be a pen, finger or light, for instance. The police will then move the object and you must keep looking at it without moving your head. If your eyes unfocus too much, it may be an indication that you’ve been drinking.

2. Walk-and-turn test

Also called the “straight line” or “walking” test, the walk-and-turn test is a simple evaluation of your ability to walk straight and keep your balance. People who drink alcohol are less likely to have control over their muscle function and may wobble after drinking. 

The test involves having you walk ten paces in a straight line and walk back to where you started. If you fell, took too many or too few steps or couldn’t stay straight, then the police may suspect you of drinking.

3. One-legged stand test

Finally, the police may have you stand on one leg. Again, this is a kind of balance test that you could fail if you’ve been drinking.

The police will have you lift a foot off the ground about half a foot up. You’ll then stay in that position for half a minute or more. If you fall or use your hands to balance yourself, then the police could suspect you of drinking.

These tests aren’t always perfect. You could be misjudged as being drunk while experiencing a medical condition. If you believe you were wrongly accused of drunk driving, then you may need to learn about your legal rights.