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Common Field Sobriety Test Methods

Field sobriety “tests”, by their name, sound like an objective way for officers to determine whether or not a driver is legally drunk. On the contrary, field sobriety tests are largely subjective and can be biased depending on preconceptions about the driver that the officer might have even before administering the tests. If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving drunk, it may help to be familiar with the tests that are usually conducted and common pitfalls to avoid.

Sobriety tests have been shown to be unreliable in many instances. If you have been arrested on DUI charges for failing to pass a field sobriety test, contact a DUI defense lawyer immediately. Aggressive, experienced Rhode Island DUI lawyer Matthew Marin can help defend you from charges made based on inconclusive evidence.

Common Tests You May be Asked to Perform

First of all, remember that you do not have to submit to a field sobriety test if asked. If you don’t feel comfortable performing a test, you can decline. You may still be arrested, but by not taking the sobriety test, this questionable evidence cannot be used against you when you are charged with a DUI.

The three federally recognized sobriety tests that are commonly used are:

  • Walk and turn test: You will be asked to walk along a line, one foot in front of the other, while counting your steps out loud. After walking the line, you are required to turn around and repeat the same steps.
  • One leg stand: Stand with legs together and arms at your side, then lift one foot six inches off of the ground and hold for 30 seconds, counting out loud. Your foot should not touch the ground before 30 seconds is up and you should not use your arms to balance yourself.
  • Horizontal gaze test: The officer will hold up a finger or an object and ask you to track the object with your eye, looking for any involuntary eye movements.

Sobriety Tests as Evidence for a DUI Conviction

Sobriety tests results can be used against you and in favor of a DUI conviction, but often they do not provide sufficient evidence of drunk driving on their own. One of the major problems with field sobriety tests is that these are physical ability tests that someone could fail for many reasons other than being legally drunk.

Some people are physically not able to balance well, while others do not perform physical tasks well under pressure and stress. In the case of the horizontal gaze test, many people have involuntary eye movements either as a physical condition or because of nervousness or surrounding light conditions. These tests can therefore be unreliable because of too many other confounding factors.

Contact Us

A good DUI defense attorney will carefully examine all evidence brought against you and look for weaknesses in the case made by the prosecution. If you have been convicted of a DUI and sobriety tests were involved, don’t hesitate to contact Rhode Island DUI defense lawyer Matthew Marin today at 401-287-4384.