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Types of field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2020 | Blog, Drunk Driving

All 50 states take drunk driving seriously and set stiff penalties for those caught driving under the influence. A police officer in Florida has the right to pull suspicious drivers over to check their condition. Standard protocol usually includes a Breathalyzer test, but the driver may also be asked to perform one of several field tests.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

This test checks the driver’s eyes for jerking movements. The officer will request the driver follow an object, such as a pen, to look for certain cues. These cues include smooth movement, an angle of movement beyond 45 degrees and obvious nystagmus at maximum deviation. If the test shows more than two clues between each eye, the driver likely has a BAC above the 08. legal limit.

Balance test

This test requires a person to balance on one leg six inches off the ground. The driver may be instructed to count from 1,001 until 1,006, and the officer tells him or her to drop his or her foot. The officer looks for swaying while trying to balance, lack of balance or hopping, placing the foot down, or balancing with arms. A driver exhibiting at least two cues usually indicates a BAC of .10 or more.

Walk-and-turn test

During the walk-and-turn test, the officer asks the driver to walk nine heel-to-toe steps and turn on one leg in opposite directions on a straight line. It involves the instruction phase and the walking phase. The officer gives the driver instructions, such as not starting until told, how to do the walk and to keep his or her arms at his or her side.

The officer looks for incorrect turns, a failure to follow instructions, starting before being told, balancing with the arms or getting off the line. Missing two cues usually indicates a driver has a BAC higher than .10.

Tests used for determining drunk driving can provide false results, and these tests could be hard for some sober people who are overweight or older. Drivers who disagree with the test results or think the test used was unfair have the right to an attorney.

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