Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Kurtz Blum, PLLC | Raleigh Criminal LawyersIf an officer believes you are driving while intoxicated, he will stop your vehicle and possibly request that you step out of your vehicle. Once out, an officer will likely ask you to perform a battery of field tests to confirm your sobriety. The three most common field sobriety tests are the following:

One-Leg Stand Test

In this test, you will be requested to stand with one leg raised straight and the foot pointed up with your hands to your side. Your foot should be about six inches off the ground. You will then be asked to count to thirty. During this test, the officer will watch to see if you raise your arms for balance, sway, or drop your foot (or completely fall over) before you reach the count of thirty.

Walk-and-Turn Test

In a walk-and-turn test, you will be required to walk in a straight line for approximately nine steps, with your toe coming in contact with the heel before it. You will also be required to count out loud with your hands to your side. Raising your arms for balance, straying from the straight line, toes and heels not connecting, missing out on a count, and an incorrect turn are the signs of intoxication that the officer will be on the lookout for.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Officers perform this test by asking you to follow an object with your eyes while holding your head still. Officers will then observe if you are tracking the object with your eyes smoothly, or if you have a distinct Nystagmus, where your eyes twitch involuntarily when the object reaches your peripheral vision due to intoxication.


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