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Understanding field sobriety tests and the impact on a DUI charge

Field sobriety tests are used by police officers to help determine if a person is under the influence of alcohol.

While not always the case, the use of a breathalyzer test typically comes after one or more field sobriety test.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and consists of the following:

  • Walk and turn. You are required to take nine full steps, heel to toe, along a straight line. Upon reaching the end of the line, you're prompted to turn on one foot and do the same in the other direction.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus. This is known as the involuntary jerking that occurs when the eye moves from side to side. However, when someone is under the influence of alcohol, the jerking motion is much more pronounced.
  • One leg stand. This is when you are asked to stand on one foot, with the other approximately six inches off the ground, for a period of 30 seconds. The use of arms, hopping, and the other foot may indicate alcohol impairment.

Although it's believed that the Standardized Field Sobriety Test is accurate in determining if a person is under the influence of alcohol, this is not always the case.

For example, it's possible that you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to complete the one leg stand.

If you were arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, learn more about your legal rights and the defense strategies you can use to help avoid a conviction.

Source: FindLaw, "Field Sobriety Tests," accessed June 08, 2018

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