Field Sobriety Tests: An Overview

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You have probably seen a person attempting to perform some type of field sobriety test before, whether on TV or on the side of the road. The person may attempt to walk in a straight line, balance on their leg, or even be asked to follow an officer's pen with their eyes only. All of these are well known field sobriety tests that can be used by police officers to gather probable cause that you were driving under the influence.

So what are your rights when it comes to field sobriety tests? This is often a complex and controversial issue. Many believe that the roadside or field sobriety tests are so subject that individuals should refuse to take them every time. While each case is different, it is important to know in what ways you can exercise your rights and avoid being treated unfairly by officers.

Charged with DUI after a field sobriety test? Contact the Law Offices of Randall J. Craig today!

Types of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Our Scottsdale DUI lawyer understands the ins and outs of DUI law in Arizona and can help you determine whether or not your rights were violated in a roadside test or if the probable cause gathered was inaccurate. We can also help demonstrate to the court how subjective and difficult these tests are to perform correctly, even for a sober person. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) includes three main components: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, One-Leg Stand, and Walk and Turn.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
An officer will look for involuntary jerking in the eyes that happens when an eye gazes to the side, which is exaggerated when an individual is impaired. The officer will ask a person to follow a moving object to look for evidence of this.

One-Leg Stand
An individual will be asked to stand with one foot close to six inches off the ground and count for 30 seconds. During this time, an officer will look for swaying, using arms to improve balance, any hoping or use of the other foot, and other actions for evidence of impairment.

Walk and Turn
An officer will direct an individual to take 9 steps, heel-to-toe, while staying on a straight line. After that, they will turn one foot and repeat the action in the opposite direction. They will look for correct number of steps, heel-to-toe completion, and lack of balance during this test.

These tests are usually requested so that an officer can gain cause to require you to perform a breathalyzer test, which can lead to your arrest. Without this evidence, an officer may have a hard time proving your intoxication, though many take field sobriety test refusals as evidence of guilt without admission.

Defending Against SFST Results

Whether you have been arrested for refusing to perform tests or your performance was used to demonstrate probable cause for your charges, you need to take legal action right away. Our firm can review the recordings or data from your tests and the arrest process, utilizing this to build a strong defense.

Don't wait to get the defense team you need behind your case! Fill out a case evaluation today to get our DUI lawyer on your side.