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Drunk driving charge may follow a failed field sobriety test

Pennsylvania residents, or those individuals who are visiting the state, who are thought to be driving while impaired by alcohol may be pulled over by police officers. When they are, they may be asked to submit to roadside testing. If they do and they fail any of the tests, drunk driving charges may follow.

There are three and only three standardized field sobriety tests: the walk and turn, the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. All three of these are looking for two things — cognitive function and physical impairment. The one-leg stand and the walk and turn are just what they sound like. With the one-leg stand, one must hold one foot up and while arms are at his or her side remain steady and count until told to stop. With the walk and turn, one must walk a line a specific number of steps, turn and walk back — all without losing his or her balance.

The HGN is a little different. With this test, all one must do is follow an officers finger, pen or light with his or her eyes. During this test, the officer is looking for the eye jerking that naturally occurs when the eyes roll, as well as one’s ability to follow directions. If the jerking movement is exaggerated or if one cannot follow directions, one may be charged with DUI.

A drunk driving charge can be a serious offense with significant consequences. If such a charge comes after failing any of the standardized field sobriety tests, it does not mean that there is no hope in fighting the charge. These tests are highly subjective and their results may be challenged in a Pennsylvania criminal court.

Source:, “Field Sobriety Test to Assess Drunk Driving“, Buddy T, Accessed on April 3, 2018

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Louis Emmi

Louis Emmi