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What do the roadside sobriety tests tell officers?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2024 | Drunk Driving |

The police use several methods to collect evidence from drivers who are suspected to be drunk. The police will often begin by asking drivers questions, such as where the driver is going or if they were drinking. The police may also look in a vehicle to find open containers of alcohol or drugs. However, these two methods of collecting evidence often don’t help the police.

Another way for the police to gather evidence is by asking a driver to perform standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are physical activities that may help the police spot signs of inebriation. Here’s how each of these tests works and what the police are looking for.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

A horizontal gaze nystagmus test requires a driver to look at an object, such as a pen, finger or flashlight. The police will hold this object and move it horizontally as the driver keeps their gaze on it without moving their head. The intent of this test is to see if the driver’s eyes involuntarily jerk. If the police notice these involuntary jerky movements, then they may suspect that a driver is drunk.

Walk-and-turn test

The driver may be asked to do a walk-and-turn test. This test requires a driver to stand on a straight line. They’ll take several steps on this line, turn around and walk back to where they started. Walking off the line, falling or stumbling may mean that a driver is drunk.

One-legged stand test

The police may have a driver stand on one leg. A one-legged stand test lasts for about a minute. During this time, the police may suspect a driver is drunk if they fall over, put their foot down or use their arms to keep balance.

Failing any of these tests doesn’t always mean a driver is drunk. A driver may take medication or have a physical disability that prevents them from passing these tests. It’s important to know that poor performance on these tests isn’t necessarily evidence of being under the influence.

Drivers who understand their legal rights can better respond to any charges they’re facing. Having experienced legal guidance is also important to protecting your rights.

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