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Three Types of Field Sobriety Tests

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

June 2, 2021

If you are pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test. Let’s discuss the three main kinds of field sobriety tests used to evaluate drivers.

One-Leg Stand Test

This test relies on the driver’s balance.
For this test, you would be asked to stand straight up and lift one foot about six inches off the ground. You must keep your hands at your sides. You will then be told to count until you are instructed to stop.

While you are balancing, the officer will observe you. They will look to see if you:

  • Lose your balance
  • Put your foot down
  • Use your arms to keep your balance

They may also look for other signs that lead them to believe you are under the influence. It is up to the officer’s discretion whether you pass or fail.

The Walk And Turn Test

This test is often shown on TV shows and movies; it is the test that involves walking in a straight line.
The instructions for this test are:

  • Take nine steps forward, walking heel-to-toe.
  • Pivot to turn around.
  • Take nine steps forward, walking heel-to-toe, back to where you started.

The officer administering the test will be looking to see if you can’t balance, aren’t walking in a straight line or heel-to-toe, if you stop mid-walk, and other subtle indicators of potential impairment.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Despite the complex-sounding name, this test is quite straightforward. This test focuses on the driver’s eyes.
During this evaluation, the officer will tell the driver to follow a slow-moving object with their eyes. For example, a pen moving side-to-side in front of the driver’s face. The driver must be able to follow the object with their eyes but not move either head.

The officer will be checking:

  • Jerky eye movement
  • Pupil size
  • If both eyes can follow the object together

This test is considered the most reliable, but it still only has a 77% accuracy rate.

Are These Tests Mandatory?

If an officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, you do not have to. Sober people with medical conditions or a lack of understanding for the instructions may fail the tests, signaling to the officer that they are under the influence.

If you have been charged with DUI following a field sobriety test, we encourage you to challenge the results. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we can investigate all elements of your DUI case. Contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our Daytona Beach DUI lawyers.