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DUI Field Sobriety Tests

The Field Sobriety Test is a series of tests given to drivers to ascertain their level of impairment and establish probable cause for a DUI arrest. Each test was developed after much research by the NHTSA. Police officers are trained in the administration and evaluation of these assessments. Many drivers who are pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not aware that these tests are optional and they could refuse them. The tests could possibly include the following: * Nystagmus: The police officer will hold a pen (or other object) about twelve inches away from the driver’s face. The officer then slowly moves the object from one side to the other while watching the driver’s eyes. The officer is looking for the eyeball twitching or shaking. This involuntary movement of the eye could indicate that the driver has ingested an intoxicant. The officer is also paying attention to any incriminating statements the driver may make during the test. * Standing on One Leg: The driver stands with their feet together, arms at their side and they are instructed to lift one leg off the ground while counting aloud. The officer is looking for wobbling, swaying, raising the arms, or hopping. Research shows that a person who demonstrates two or more of these indicators has a 65% chance of having a BAC of at least .10. * Touching Finger to Nose: This assessment entails the driver to stand with his feet together, close his eyes, and raise his index finger and touch his nose. The officer is looking for the same body and eyelid tremors as in the previous test. * Walk and Turn: The driver takes nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line. They then turn, and take nine steps back. The police officer is seeing if the suspect can keep his balance while walking and turning and if he can follow instructions.

Divided Attention DUI Tests

These tests are designed to check how well a person follows instruction when their attention is divided. This is a skill that is necessary when operating a motor vehicle. A driver must listen and complete a task while performing a physical movement. An impaired person would have trouble completing a simple mental exercise when their attention is also required to execute a physical exercise.

Alcohol Screening Test

This is a preliminary alcohol-screening (PAS) test. The police officer uses a portable breath-testing machine that records an instant measure of a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The officer is supposed to notify the driver that this test is voluntary, but sometimes they do not.

Hiring a DUI Lawyer

Many DUI attorneys are trained in the theory and administration of field sobriety tests and understand their shortcomings. The interpretation of these tests is subjective. If you or a family member has failed a DUI field sobriety test and have been charged with a DUI, contact a qualified DUI attorney in your state who can help you develop a viable DUI defense.