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3 things you need to know about field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | blog, DUI

When a police officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer might ask you to perform a field sobriety test.

When facing this situation, there are some key facts you should know.

There are only three standardized tests

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has established three standardized field sobriety tests:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus: You must follow the horizontal movement of an object or the officer’s finger with only your eyes.
  • Walk-and-turn: You must walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, turn, and walk back.
  • One-leg stand: You must stand with one foot slightly raised for a short period of time.

There are other tests, such as asking you to recite the alphabet backward or touch your finger to your nose. These non-standard tests can be less reliable than those sanctioned by the NHTSA, but police can still use them.

They are not always accurate

Even standardized tests can produce inaccurate results. Disabilities, illnesses, anxiety and even body weight can affect the results

After pulling you over, the officer should ask if you have a disability or condition that can mimic the symptoms of intoxication. If the officer neglects this step or ignores your answer, you might fail the test despite being sober.

You have the right to refuse

Due to implied consent laws, there are consequences for refusing a breath or blood test. However, no such law applies to field sobriety tests. You have the right to refuse to perform the tests.

If you are facing a DUI charge after failing a field sobriety test, you should be aware of the potential flaws of these tests.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Defense: Law, Tactics, and Procedure | by Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. | Revere Legal Publishers