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Field sobriety tests explained

| Oct 1, 2021 | Criminal Defense

As a driver in Arizona, it could benefit you to understand how field sobriety tests work. You shouldn’t assume that the way things work in one jurisdiction is the same way they do in another, as each one has different rules and laws when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI). 

Law enforcement officers may ask you to take participate in a field sobriety test as one measure of detection if they suspect that you are engaging in impaired driving. Outlined below are the fundamental aspects of field sobriety tests. 

Non-standardized field sobriety tests 

Field sobriety tests can either be standardized or non-standardized. The latter doesn’t follow a set protocol but instead depend on the individual police officer. Therefore, they tend to be less commonly used. Some examples may include a police officer asking you to count backward or close your eyes while touching your nose with one finger. 

The 3 standardized field sobriety tests

Unlike their non-standardized counterparts, law enforcement officers who use standardized field sobriety tests follow a set protocol in administering these. The three standardized tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-legged stand and the walk-and-turn ones.  

The tests examine dexterity, balance, mobility and agility. Law enforcement will also use these tests to measure how well you respond to instructions and how successful your reasoning skills are at the time. Furthermore, the horizontal gaze nystagmus will gauge the extent to which your eye moves. Any exaggeration in this movement could be an indicator of intoxication. 

Generally, field sobriety tests are used as secondary evidence, along with breathalyzer and blood tests. 

Understanding the law relating to sobriety tests could be in your best interests as a driver. If you have been accused of a DUI offense, it is important to realize that you have legal rights and protections.