Field Sobriety Tests: Things You Should Know

DUI lawyers in Springfield, IllinoisWhen a police officer suspects that you’re driving under the influence, they will ask you to pull over to undergo a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs). If you were unable to perform the tests or tend to be suspicious in your movements, the arresting officer may use the result to prove that you’re drunk or intoxicated.

As advised by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are three standardized field sobriety tests. DUI lawyers in Springfield, Illinois note that these are different from chemical tests or those that are designed to determine blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

This involves an officer holding an object like a pen about one foot away from the driver. The officer will then watch your eyes follow the object. If they saw twitching or jerking around, it is likely that you are driving while intoxicated.

Walk and Turn

In this test, a police officer will first demonstrate the movement. This involves taking nine steps with the heel of a foot touching the toe of the other foot. Then, you will have to turn and take nine steps to go back to the starting spot.  

One-Leg Stand

For this exam, you will then again watch the officer before performing the test. Here, you need to raise your leg about six inches above the ground for at least 30 seconds. You have to do this on each leg and must not show signs of poor balance.

Keep in Mind

There are also unofficial tests like reciting the alphabet, counting backwards, closing the eyes and touching the nose, and some balance exercises. It is important to note that these tests are voluntary and you have the right to refuse them. For chemical or DUI tests like BAC, however, there are penalties when you refuse the test.

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If you submit to the tests and fail them, it is best to contact a DUI attorney. FSTs are not necessarily reliable, so you lawyer can make strong arguments against the arrest. This is especially true if you barely failed or the officer did not administer the test properly.