What Field Sobriety Tests Do Officers Usually Administer?

If you are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), you will usually be asked by law enforcement officers to perform certain physical actions known as field sobriety tests. These tests are intended to help police officers establish reasonable cause to arrest you for DUI.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsored research on driving under the influence and revealed that the following are standard field sobriety tests that officers like to use to help decide if they should arrest a driver based on intoxication symptoms.

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This test checks for involuntary eye jerking that occurs when people look to the side. Although jerking is a normal response, the movement can become extreme when someone has been drinking heavily. An officer will slowly move an object from side to side while asking you to follow along with your eyes. If you cannot easily follow the object or if your eye begins to jerk excessively, the officer will assume you are intoxicated. It is important to note that these responses can also indicate that the driver has been taking seizure medication or other types of medications.
  • The Walk & Turn: During this this test, the officer will ask you to walk nine steps, heel-to-toe,  in a straight line and to turn on one foot and return to the starting position. If you have difficulty balancing and following instructions, or if you step off the line, the officer can ask for you to submit to chemical testing to determine if your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher.
  • Standing On One Leg: This test requires you to stand with one foot lifted approximately 6 inches off the ground. You will then be asked to count by thousands until the officer says you can put your foot down. The test usually lasts for about 30 seconds, and the officer will watch you for balance issues, such as using your arms for balance or having your foot touch the ground.

It is important to remember that you have the right to refuse a field sobriety test in the state of Arizona. Understanding what these tests involve will help you decide whether or not to submit to a field sobriety test. If you have been arrested for DUI, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact our Tucson team of DUI attorneys to set up a free case consultation today.