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Common Field Sobriety Tests Used During DUI Stops

Field sobriety tests are the examinations law enforcement officers use to identify and arrest drivers suspected of operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These tests are typically followed by breath or blood tests to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If you are charged with DUI, results from any of these tests are likely to be used against you.

The following are the three most common types of field sobriety tests, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • One-leg stand. The officer asks you to stand with your arms down and one foot suspended into the air approximately six inches off the ground.
  • Walk and turn. The officer asks you to walk in a straight line in a heel-to-toe fashion for several paces, then turn and walk back.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). The officer asks you to follow a moving object with your eyes, keeping your head steady throughout the entire test. This object is usually a penlight. In this test, the officer is on the lookout for a jerking motion in your eyes called nystagmus, which is typically present when people have a BAC of .10 or above.

Although there is a lot of research that supports the accuracy of these tests, they certainly are not perfect. There are methods of challenging the results of these tests to help you seek a reduced or dropped charge.

For example, you could challenge the admission of field sobriety test evidence by questioning the police officer’s reason for stopping you, or the methods the officer used to conduct and interpret the tests. You may also challenge the accuracy of the tests, as results could be adversely affected by factors such as your physical condition, poor roadside testing conditions or an officer’s lack of training and familiarity with the test.

To learn more about how you can challenge evidence from field sobriety tests, meet with a trusted La Plata DUI defense attorney at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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