Featured News 2019 Field Sobriety Tests Explained

Field Sobriety Tests Explained

Being pulled over for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is an embarrassing and frustrating experience. Worst of all, a DUI charge has the potential to impact your life significantly. A DUI conviction often results in an arrest, fines, and the suspension of your drivers' license.

If a police officer pulls someone over under suspicion of a DUI, they will usually put an individual through a variety of field tests as a superficial indicator of intoxication. Field sobriety tests are somewhat subjective. Men and women with poor balance or certain medical conditions may not be able to pass these tests, even if they are completely free of alcoholic influence. Additionally, a sober person who is nervous at the thought of being charged with a DUI could fail a field sobriety test. Still, the Standard Field Sobriety Test administration states that these tests produce accurate results 91 percent of the time.

Common Field Sobriety Tests

The Rhomberg Balance Test

In this exercise, officials will have a person close their eyes and tilt their head backward. He must remain this way for about 30 seconds while keeping balance. The police are looking for any wavering, loss of balance, or inability to keep eyes closed. A sober person should be able to accomplish this task with ease. However, not all people are not physically able to complete this test and will fail it no matter how much they’ve had to drink.

Verbal Tests

Slurred speech is one of the most obvious signs of intoxication, so authorities will listen closely to how a person speaks. Police officers will sometimes request that an accused driver recite the alphabet or count backward. A driver who is not able to accurately complete these simple tasks is normally intoxicated, and this evidence can be used to prove a DUI.

The Walk-and-Turn Test

If an officer asks you to follow a straight line and walk heel to toe, you are undergoing the walk and turn test. An intoxicated person will not be able to walk in a straight line reliably. Like with the Rhomberg Test, a person’s physical health could produce a false result during this test.

Rhythm Tests

When a person is intoxicated, they frequently lose the ability to keep rhythm with a beat. An officer may ask a person to clap to a consistent beat as an indicator of their intoxication.

The Finger-to-Nose Test

This simple test is used to show how much coordination a person has. For this test, an officer will request that the driver closes their eyes and stand with their feet together. The officer will then ask the driver to touch the tip of their nose with their index finger. Officials use a failure of this test to indicate that the person being questioned is too intoxicated to have the basic level of coordination needed to drive safely.


This simple exercise reveals a person’s ability to focus. A police officer will hold an item about twelve inches from the driver's face and move it in either direction. The driver must follow this item by moving their eyes and keeping their head stationary. Someone who is intoxicated will have a hard time following this item with their eyes.

Standing on One Leg

This simple test helps police determine a body's ability to balance. The accused will stand on one foot while counting to a determined number. The policeman will look for hopping, swaying or tremors.

Is a Person Required to Take Field Sobriety Tests?

Unlike blood and breath tests, these field sobriety tests may not be mandatory. In some states, a person may not be required to take field sobriety tests because they are self-incriminating evidence. Police officers sometimes fail to mention that a person has the right to deny these tests, so it’s essential that you research your local laws to find out if they are mandatory. If you are involved in a DUI case or have more questions about the DUI tests that you were issued, contact a DUI attorney for advice.

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