What is a Field Sobriety Test?

Before even getting pulled over for a DUI, the police officer is already observing your driving. If you are swerving in and out of lanes, speeding or driving too slow, those are obvious signs of intoxication. The officer will then pull you over and observe you and your behaviors. If you smell like alcohol, have bloodshot eyes or slur your speech, those are signs of intoxication as well. If the officer believes you may be intoxicated, he will ask you to get out of the car and participate in field sobriety tests.

Field Sobriety tests are tests given to alleged drunk drivers by officers to test driver sobriety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has standardized three tests that should be given to all drivers suspected of being drunk. First, there is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). The officer puts a pen or something in front of your face and asks you to follow the object with just your eyes. Intoxicated people have a hard time doing this. Instead of smooth tracing of the eyes, the eyes will jerk and have a difficulty following the object.

Another field sobriety test is the walk and turn test which tests divided attention. In this test, the officer asks you to walk in a straight line with one foot following close behind the other. After taking about nine steps, you are asked to turn around using just one foot and walk the other way. Intoxicated people do not have balance and cannot follow these instructions.

The last standardized field sobriety test is the one leg stand that also tests divided attention. The suspect is asked to stand and one foot and count. An intoxicated person will not have good balance or will not count properly.

Officers may give other tests to test sobriety, most likely if the suspect cannot take the standardized field sobriety tests. Whether you live in Fullerton, Santa Ana or Mission Viejo, if you are pulled over for a DUI, you need an experienced DUI attorney to assist you.

If you have any questions about driving under the influence, field sobriety tests or about your own charges, please call Orange County defense attorney William Weinberg, at 949.474.8009 (Irvine office) or 714.834.1400 (Orange office).