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What should you know about field sobriety testing?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2023 | dui

The police may suspect a driver is drunk if the driver is swerving, running a stop sign or just left a bar. With reasonable suspicion, the police may pull over the driver. Before the police charge a driver with a DUI, the police should gather enough probable cause.

One way the police can get probable cause for a DUI charge is by having the driver do a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are a kind of physical evaluation that help the police determine whether a driver is sober or not. Here’s what you should know:

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

The police may judge a driver’s sobriety levels by examining their eyes and focus. One way this can be done is with a horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). During a HGN test, the driver will be asked to focus on a pen, finger or light and keep their eyes on it without moving their head. The officer will then check to see if the driver’s eyes flicker or unfocus. Any signs of these issues would indicate the driver is drunk.

Walk-and-turn test

The driver may also be asked to do a walk-and-turn test (WAT). The driver will have to walk in a straight line during a WAT test. After about seven paces, the driver will then walk back. If the driver falls or can’t keep straight, then they may be inebriated.

One-leg stand test

A one-legged stand test involves the driver standing on one leg. They’ll keep one foot up for about half a minute. If the driver falls or can’t keep their foot up, then the officer may suspect them of being drunk.

Your legal rights

You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests without punishment. If you’re still facing a DUI charge and believe your rights were violated, you may need to get legal help.