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What are standardized field sobriety tests? 

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | DUI/DWI/Drunk Driving

male police officer holding breathalyzer

The police have several tools at their disposal that can help them gather evidence on suspected drunk drivers. While many people know about breath tests, some people aren’t aware of standardized field sobriety tests. 

A standardized field sobriety test helps the police spot signs of inebriation through a series of physical activities. There are three standardized field sobriety tests recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Here’s what you should know about each test:

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN)

A horizontal gaze nystagmus test is an eye evaluation. The driver may be asked to focus on a single point such as the officer’s finger, a pen or a light. The officer will then move the object left and right as they watch the driver’s eyes for rapid eye movement. Increased rapid eye movement during an HGN test may be an indication of inebriation.

Walk-and-turn test (WAT)

A walk-and-turn test allows the police to examine a driver’s coordination and ability to follow instructions. The driver may be responsible for walking on a straight line while keeping their feet heel-to-toe. If the driver stumbles, starts too soon or takes too many steps, then they could be inebriated.

One-legged stand test (OLS)

Finally, a driver may be asked to perform a one-legged stand test. The driver may have to lift one leg off the ground and keep it up for about a minute. If the driver falls or has to put their foot down, then the officer may suspect the driver as being drunk.

Non-standardized field sobriety tests

The police may ask drivers to perform field sobriety tests that are not standardized. A non-standardized field sobriety test could involve the driver holding a finger to their nose as they say the alphabet backward. 

It’s important for drivers to understand their legal rights during traffic stops. It also helps to have experienced legal guidance to fight any charges. 

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