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Field sobriety tests during a traffic stop for suspected DUI

It can be incredibly intimidating to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror as you are driving. Once you see this, you pull over, and you wait for law enforcement to approach your vehicle. If a police officer tells you that he or she stopped you because your behavior indicated the possibility of intoxicated operation of your vehicle, you may be asked to do certain things. One of the things law enforcement may ask of you is to submit to field sobriety tests. 

Field sobriety tests are tasks that one must complete that will allow an officer to determine one’s level of possible intoxication. These tests are standard, meaning that all police officers receive training on the same tests in order to administer these tests in a consistent manner. You may benefit from understanding what these tests entail and what to expect if pulled over for suspected DUI. 

Different types of field sobriety tests 

Law enforcement could ask you to perform certain tasks designed to measure your balance, stability, coordination, ability to follow instructions and more. The results of your tests could indicate to law enforcement whether a breath test is necessary. The three field sobriety tests include: 

  • Walk-and-turn test – Law enforcement will ask you to take nine steps then turn around and come back in the same direction. This test gauges your ability to walk straight, listen to directions and whether you needed to use your arms to balance. 
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus – An officer will ask you to keep your head still while following an object only with your eyes. An exaggerated jerking of the eyeball during this test could indicate intoxication. 
  • One-leg stand test – During this test, an officer will ask a driver to stand on one leg and balance. The driver must stay in that position until the officer says he or she can put the leg down. 

These tests are common tools used by law enforcement to evaluate a driver’s condition. The proper administration of these tests is critical, and if there are any problems or a violation of your rights during a test, it could compromise the entire case against you. Regardless of the details of your individual DUI case, you can benefit from an assessment of your specific charges in order to understand how to best defend yourself and protect your future. 

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