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Types of sobriety tests to expect at a DUI stop

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The hope is that you never find yourself pulled off on a busy street to prove that you didn’t have too much to drink. But there’s a chance this could happen even when alcohol isn’t in the mix. In either case, it’s helpful to know what a police officer might ask you, as the situation can be nerve-wracking.

Field sobriety tests

Essentially, there are three main tests that a police officer will run through with a driver they suspect has been drinking.

  • Walk-and-turn: This test involves walking and turning, with a few extra rules. Side note, beyond testing balance, seeing if a driver can follow detailed rules is another way police officers try and detect intoxication. So, for this one, the driver must take nine steps from heel to toe, turn using one foot and take another nine steps back in the same manner.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus: In addition to poor balance and inability to follow rules, eye-jerking can indicate someone has had too many alcoholic beverages. So, a test designed to measure this is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. When carrying it out a police officer will take a small object, like a pen, move it from left to right and ask the driver to follow the object with their eyes.
  • One-leg stand: Another way to measure coordination is the one-leg stand. Like the walk-and-turn, this test is a simple task with some added rules. In addition to just standing on one leg, the driver must count from 1,001 until the police officer asks them to stop.

Even while sober, performing these seemingly simple tasks for a law enforcement official can be quite intimidating. So, if failure of these tests and a criminal charge is the reality you are facing, it’s important to know what next steps you should take.

Fighting a DUI charge

It’s crucial to understand that you will need to seek a defense path unique and applicable to your case. Consulting a legal professional can be your first step toward lessening or eliminating charges.

Before speaking with anyone, you can consider the fact that it’s possible that the failure of these tests was out of your control. Maybe you have physical or mental health conditions that would make it difficult to put all your weight on one leg or give a task your undivided attention. It’s also worth noting that these tests are optional and require detailed instructions, so if a police officer didn’t give you a choice or didn’t give clear instructions, you might have a convincing case.

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