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What Does the Field Sobriety Test Consist Of?

While you never plan to be in a situation where you are faced with a field sobriety test, sometimes you end up there. The field sobriety test is optional so you can choose not to do these exercises and we strongly advise against taking the field sobriety test, it is good to know what it includes so that you are better informed of the process.

Horizontal Nystagmus Test

The first test in the field sobriety test is called the Horizontal Nystagmus test. This is where the police officer is looking into how your eyes track an object moving in a horizontal direction. This is a clear way to deduce if someone is under the influence of some type of substance. This is because the eyes can’t lie in this type of test. Despite your best efforts, you are not able to control how your eyes respond in this type of test. The officer is looking to see if your eyes bounce or jerk as they move from a neutral position to the side. Specifically, they are looking for three elements; smooth tracking, nystagmus set before a 45-degree angle and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation. This is done in each eye.

Vertical Nystagmus

The second test in the field sobriety test is called the Vertical Nystagmus test. This is similar to the Horizontal Nystagmus test but the focus is on vertical movement of the eye. The officer would be looking for the same three criteria when tracking the movement of the eye; smooth tracking, nystagmus set before a 45-degree angle and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation. This also is done for each eye.

Walk and Turn

The third test in the field sobriety test series is called the Walk and Turn. This test is a fairly simple one, but if someone is under the influence there is no way to hide its impact. The test calls for the individual to walk heel to toe on a line for a certain number of steps. This forces the participant to focus on multiple things at once and because of the split focus, the influence of substances will become evident. The officer will be looking for eight distinct elements. They are looking to see if the person; cannot stay balanced during instructions, starts the test before instructions are concluded, steps off the line, stops to balance, uses arms to balance, does not connect feet in a heel to toe manner, makes an improper turn and takes the incorrect number of steps. Any shortcomings on these aspects can result in failing the test.

One Leg Stand

The fourth standardized test in the field sobriety test is called the One Leg Stand. This is where an individual is asked to stand on one leg for 30 seconds and remain balanced. This is similar to the Walk and Turn test, where the individual is tasked with focusing on a few items at once. This split focus will allow the influence of a substance to become easy to see. An officer is looking for four clues; swaying while balancing, hopping, using arms to balance and putting the other foot down.

In conclusion, the field sobriety test is a set of fairly simple to perform exercises that anyone should be able to perform. However, if you are under the influence of a substance you will not be able to hide its effects. You should choose to avoid taking the field sobriety test. If you need an experienced DUI attorney we are more than capable to represent you and help you through the process. We look forward to working with you.


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