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What is involved in standardized field sobriety testing?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | DUI/DWI Charges

When a police officer in Georgia pulls you over due to suspected impairment, they will immediately start gathering evidence against you. They will ask you questions that will force you to either lie or implicate yourself. They will then potentially have you perform field sobriety tests.

Your performance on those tests will influence whether or not the police officer can demand that you perform a chemical breath test. It can also influence their decision about whether or not to arrest you and the likelihood of the courts convicting you after you get arrested and charged.

The field sobriety test that you perform will have a huge impact on your future. What do those tests involve?

There are three standardized fields sobriety tests

While there are many creative ways that police officers could gauge someone’s chemical impairment at the wheel, not all of them are reliable. There are three field sobriety tests that most jurisdictions consider standard for impaired driving prosecution across the United States.

The first is the walk-and-turn test. This involves the driver walking in a straight line and then turning 180° and following the same line back toward the officer. The next test is the one-leg stand test. An officer will ask a driver to balance on one leg, often while answering questions or performing a simple logic test.

The third standardized test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This test involves an officer having someone follow their finger from side to side with their eyes without turning their head. There is a muscle spasm that occurs during this movement of the eyes, and alcohol makes the spasm much more obvious.

How knowing the tests can help

If you understand how a police officer will likely test you for sobriety, you can better communicate with them during a traffic stop to explain if you have a medical condition that will affect your performance on these tests. You will also have an easier time recognizing if an officer didn’t perform the test properly or performed non-standardized tests.

There are a range of scenarios in which you can challenge field sobriety test results in court, including when an officer fails to record the testing process. Learning more about how police officers develop impaired driving cases can help those facing drunk driving allegations.