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What to expect when asked to perform field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2022 | DUIs

While dealing with a routine traffic stop can be difficult under any scenario, it may seem like receiving a ticket is the worst that could happen. However, should authorities suspect the presence of impairment, what happens next could prove far more intimidating, and you might not know how best to approach the process. 

While investigating the matter, it might not be uncommon for authorities to ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform standardized field sobriety tests. These tests act to measure various factors and play a role in determining the presence of impairment, but they may by no means be infallible. 

What do SFSTs measure? 

While you might be somewhat aware of some common types of field sobriety tests, knowing what these tests seek to measure may be another matter entirely. Some examples of these factors might include: 

  • Eye movements:  The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is a type of field sobriety test that seeks to measure your eye movements and ability to track objects without exhibiting jerking of the eyes. 
  • Coordination:  Tests such as the Walk-And-Turn might seek to measure your current level of coordination and ability to carry out associated tasks without swaying or stopping frequently. 
  • Balance:  Walk-And-Turn and One-Leg Stand tests may also seek to check your ability to balance without swaying and authorities may also look for things such as using your arms for aid, having to stop temporarily, or hopping. 
  • Following instructions:  Another common factor authorities might look for during SFSTs may involve your ability to listen to and follow instructions while performing the tasks associated with each test. 

Although standardized field sobriety tests act to measure impairment, there may be numerous factors that could influence your ability to perform these tests, such as the presence of medical conditions. 

Knowing your options 

When accused of driving while impaired, you may retain the right to refuse to take SFSTs but doing so might not always be in your best interests. Seeking advice on your legal rights during a traffic stop and your options when facing charges for similar offenses may also be integral to preparing to make informed choices about your situation. Such advice may help place you in a better position to protect your future by preparing a strategy with which to seek the best outcome achievable during subsequent legal proceedings.