Field Sobriety Tests: What to Know 

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Field sobriety tests are used by law enforcement and police officers in order to determine whether or not a person has been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They are used to measure both the driver’s physical and cognitive abilities in order to determine impairment and potentially charge the driver with a DUI. Field sobriety test results are one of the biggest pieces of evidence used in DUI accident cases, however they are not always 100% accurate. 

Even drivers who have not consumed any drugs or alcohol may sometimes fail these tests, while drivers who have consumed drugs or alcohol will pass them. It is important to understand different types of field sobriety tests in the event that you are asked to take one so you can be as prepared as possible.

Three Types of Field Sobriety Tests 

In general, there are three different types of field sobriety tests that law enforcement and police officers typically use. They are as follows: 

  • The One-Leg Stand Test: In this test, the driver is asked to stand on one leg for a certain period of time while counting out loud. Officers will be looking for hopping, swaying, waving arms, and any other sign of imbalance during this specific test. 
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: In this test, an officer will hold an object at eye-level and ask the driver to follow the object with their eyes. If there is eye-jerking or delay, it is seen as a sign of impairment. 
  • The Straight Line Test: Also known as the Walk-and-Turn test, the driver is asked to walk in a straight line using heel-to-toe steps, turn around, and repeat walking in a straight line using the same method back. Generally, the officer looks for signs of imbalance, and confusion regarding directions of this test. 

What To Expect During a Field Sobriety Test 

pulled over

If an officer is suspicious of your driving patterns and pulls you over, it is possible that you will be asked to perform a field sobriety test. It’s important to note that taking field sobriety tests are voluntary, which means you have the right to refuse to take one. However, this can pose future challenges as you may get a license suspension, DUI charge, or additional charges. 

If you agree to take the field sobriety test, do not panic. Do your best to follow the officer’s instructions and cooperate as best as you can. Your ability to follow these instructions and maintain balance among other things is what the officer will be looking for while you take the field sobriety test. 

What Happens if You Fail?

Again, field sobriety tests are not always accurate. They can be physically and mentally challenging for sober people. Certain medications and medical conditions make the nature of field sobriety tests (balance and coordination) difficult to follow for a large population of people. 

If you do happen to fail a field sobriety test, an officer may arrest and charge you with a DUI. However it is important to know that you can defend yourself in court. An experienced Tempe DUI defense attorney will help you understand your legal options when it comes to DUI charges. 

Everything You Need to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

If you are facing DUI charges, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. Remember that field sobriety tests are not always accurate, and make sure you understand the different types of field sobriety tests before hitting the road. Knowing all of this can help you avoid serious consequences, as well as keep you and everyone else safe on the road!

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for and other auto blogs