Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Are field sobriety tests always right?

Testing is to be done in a certain manner and training is carried out so that officers understand how to do this correctly. Still, the training that officers receive is not always enough and they may fail to administer the test correctly. Their mistake can lead to an unfortunate outcome for a suspect and can put them in a bad light that they don't deserve. There are many reasons why these tests can be false and it is important to work with a St. Louis criminal lawyer who understands the defense options.

Types of Tests

There are three tests that can be used and these may be done separately, altogether or through the use of two. It is dependent on what the officer chooses to do and they administer these depending on how they see fit for the situation. The three tests include the Walk and Turn, the One Leg Stand and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. The tests will assess for a number of factors that can be influenced by the presence of alcohol. In addition to looking at the outward appearance and physical capabilities of a person in question, an officer will also be looking at the comprehension ability.

Walk and Turn

The Walk and Turn test will require the individual to walk a straight line with one foot in front of the other heel to toe. They will go a certain amount of steps before they need to pivot on one foot and walk back on the line in the same way. During this test an officer will be looking if the person:

  • uses their arms to balance;
  • steps off the line;
  • forgets to walk heel to toe;
  • doesn't pivot;
  • starts before the instructions are finished;
  • can't balance and listen to instructions;
  • has to stop to balance; or
  • takes the wrong amount of steps.

One Leg Stand

The One Leg Stand requires the individual to balance on one foot while the other is in the air. They will need to hold it around six inches from the ground for 30 seconds while counting by thousands. They should not put their foot down until the officer instructs them to do so. An officer will be looking for a number of signs, such as if they have to hop to stay balanced, need to put down their foot, use their arms to stay up or sway.

HGN Test

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, also referred to as the HGN test will be looking at the eyes and reactions of a person. During it, the officer will use an object such as a light or a pen for the individual to follow with their eyes. Both eyes will be tested separately, with three signs looked for in each eye. The first is if they are able to follow the object with their eyes smoothly if it is more of a jerking motion. Next is if any involuntary jerking occurs when the eye is brought out to the side, or maximum deviation. The last indicator will be if the jerking takes place within 45 degrees of the center of the eye. Learn more about how the field sobriety tests and how the outcome of a SFST can be fought by getting in touch with the firm.

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