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A guide to field sobriety tests in Iowa

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Drunk driving has serious consequences. One drunk driving incident resulted in an Ely resident’s car going off the road and into a ditch. Fortunately, the family made it out all right, but police continue the search for the hit-and-run suspect. 

Iowa police take drunk driving cases extremely seriously. Thousands of people around the country lose their lives each year to drunk drivers, so the cops are always on the lookout for anyone who could be under the influence of alcohol. If you find yourself pulled over by the cops, then you should expect to undergo field sobriety tests. These are the most common ones used in Iowa that you should expect.

One-legged stand test

As the name suggests, the driver must balance on one foot with no use of the arms. Officers often ask the person to count up to 10 while doing this. This kind of multitasking becomes much more difficult when intoxicated, so it police designed it to see whether a person can handle a seemingly easy task. However, poor road conditions, medical conditions and regular nervousness can make a sober person fail the test and end up under arrest. 


With the walk-and-turn, a person must walk in a straight line with his or her arms to the sides. The person must then move the feet in a strict heel-to-toe fashion. The person must then count each step loud enough so that the officer hears. Nine steps in both directions are necessary, or else the person technically “fails” the test.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

Finally, there is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. In this one, the officer tests the driver’s vision. The officer will ask the person to look at a light and follow it with only the eyes.

While all these tests sound simple enough, they can be difficult to complete, even for someone who has not consumed any alcohol. It is paramount to seek legal assistance if you believe the police wrongfully arrested you. 

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