What Do Police Officers Look For During Field Sobriety Tests?

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Being pulled over by the police for a suspected DUI is always extremely scary. As the officer approaches your vehicle, you may feel nervous, even if you have only had one drink or nothing to drink at all. You may feel ready to cooperate and do whatever the officer asks. While you have some legal obligations at a traffic stop, you are not required to submit to field sobriety tests.

Generally speaking, field sobriety tests have no basis in science. Officers look for certain factors during these tests and usually state that you showed signs of intoxication, even when you did not. It is, for this reason, you should always refuse to take any field sobriety test. Below, our Ouachita Parish DWI & DUI lawyer explains what officers are looking for during these tests.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

The HGN test is the only one that has any scientific basis. Studies have shown that it is accurate approximately 77 percent of the time. Still, it is important to refuse this test, as you have no legal duty to submit to it. An officer will ask you to follow a light, pen, or other small object with your eyes. As you do, they will look for certain signs of intoxication, which may include:

  • Failing to follow the object
  • Jerking eyeballs before they reach a 45 degree angle
  • Exaggerated jerking as the eye reaches maximum deviation

The Walk-and-Turn Test

During the walk-and-turn test, you are required to walk nine steps in a straight line, heel-to-toe. You then turn on one foot and walk nine steps in the same manner. As you walk, the officer will look for the following signs of impairment:

  • Being unable to remain still while the officer completes the instructions
  • Using your arms for balance
  • Inability to follow instructions, such as walking too many or too few steps
  • Loss of balance while turning
  • Excessive efforts to maintain your balance

The One-Leg Stand Test

An officer may instruct you to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count out load “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three” and so on until the officer tells you to stop. . As you do, the officer will watch for the following signs of impairment:

  • Putting your foot down
  • Being unable to hold your foot off the ground
  • Hopping on one foot in order to regain balance
  • Swaying in order to maintain balance
  • Raising your arms more than six inches away from your body to maintain balance

As with the other tests, the one-leg stand field sobriety test can be difficult for a sober person to pass, particularly in this stressful situation.

Call Our DWI & DUI Lawyer in Ouachita Parish for Help with Your Case

At Whiddon Criminal Defense, our Ouachita Parish DWI & DUI lawyer can challenge the results of your field sobriety test, as well as any breath or blood test you submitted to. If you are facing charges, call us today at 318-594-3592 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.

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