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Understanding standard field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a motorist is intoxicated before they can perform a traffic stop for suspected drunk driving. From there, they need probable cause to make a DUI arrest legally.

Law enforcement officers use different field testing methods to establish probable cause. Knowing how these tests work may help you decide what to do if the police pull you over. If they administer the tests incorrectly, it can serve as the foundation of a DUI defense. Let’s look at the tests that make up the standard field sobriety tests (SFST).

Walk and turn around

The officer instructs you to walk a straight line, turn around and return to your starting position. The specific requirements of this sobriety test increase its difficulty. Drivers must:

  • Walk from heel to toe
  • Take nine steps in each direction
  • Turn around on one foot

Feeling scared or anxious often makes it harder to complete the test, regardless of sobriety.

Stand on one leg

The officer tells you to stand on one leg for a set time. During this test, drivers must:

  • Hold the position for about 30 seconds
  • Keep one leg about six inches from the ground
  • Count, starting at 1,001 until the officer ends the test

Again, the state of your emotions can interfere with the ability to finish the task correctly.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)

HGN refers to involuntary jerking of the eyeballs. In the intoxicated, these involuntary movements may be more pronounced and occur at lower angles than in sober individuals.

You will follow a light with your eyes as the police move it across your vision. Unfortunately, failing this scientific-sounding sobriety test can damage your case.

It is possible to fail field sobriety tests and face arrest even if you have not consumed any alcohol. Exploring your Ohio DUI defense options as early as possible may help you avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction.