What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

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What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

If you drive while you are drunk and/or high on illegal and/or prescription drugs, you face a wide variety of consequences. This wide variety of consequences includes field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests (FSTs) usually consist of three specific tests (though there are others that are less commonly used): the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk and Turn (WAT) test, and the One Leg Stand (OLS) test. Police officers administer these tests at traffic stops in order to see whether drivers are drunk, high, or otherwise impaired, and police officers typically administer these tests before they administer breathalyzer tests.

The HGN test determines whether drivers can focus their gaze on higher or lower angles. It also determines whether a driver has trouble tracking objects like pens and flashlights. If a driver is unable to track objects easily and/or if his or her gaze still is moving irregularly, the test concludes that the driver may be intoxicated.

The WAT test involves a driver taking nine steps, heel-to-toe, across a straight line in one direction, and then turning around with one foot and doing the same thing in the other direction. The test concludes that the driver is impaired if the driver:

  • Is unable to balance himself or herself at the same time as listening to directions
  • Starts walking before receiving all of the officer’s instructions
  •  Stops and tries to balance himself or herself
  • Is unable to walk on his or her toes and heels
  • Balances himself or herself with his or her arms
  • Strays from the straight line
  • Takes too many or too few steps
  • Turns incorrectly

The OLS test involves a driver standing on one foot roughly six inches away from the ground (usually counting backwards from one thousand) for about 30 seconds, or until the officer instructs him or her to stop. The test concludes that the driver is intoxicated if he or she swings back and forth, uses his or her arms, hops around, and/or places his or her foot on the ground to help balance himself or herself.

Here’s the thing: you don’t actually have to submit to any of these tests if you don’t want to. Law enforcement isn’t required to inform you of this fact, however, so a lot of drivers end up hurting their own cases. Even if you pass, you can still be charged with DUI. It’s important to remember, though, there are defenses even if you “failed” a sobriety test.

If you, a friend, or a loved one are facing DUI-related charges, contact the Knoxville DUI attorneys at Banks & Jones. You can call us at 865-546-2141. We proudly represent clients in Knoxville and throughout East Tennessee.

By |August 14th, 2019|DUI|0 Comments

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