Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety testing is used in New York as a way for law enforcement to determine whether a suspect is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the road. There are some methods of testing that are standardized by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and some that are non-standardized.

The three standardized tests used are:

  1. The One Leg Stand Test: The suspect will be asked to stand on one leg for thirty seconds, while counting 'one thousand and one, one thousand and two, etc.' While doing so, it is thought that people who are under the influence of alcohol will affect the suspect's ability to balance and maintain coordination while also using mental energy to count.
  2. The Walk and Turn Test- The suspect will be asked to walk heel-to-toe along a line for nine steps and then make a pivot turn and return in the same manner. This is also a test of the suspect's ability to perform mental and physical tasks and it is thought that alcohol consumption will affect performance.
  3. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus- Nystagmus is the jerking of the eyeballs and the suspect will be asked to follow a stimulus with their eyes while the officer observes the eyes. If a person is under the influence of alcohol, the Nystagmus will occur at a smaller angle than usual. With training, law enforcement is able to notice differences in the Nystagmus between someone who has consumed alcohol and someone who has not.

It is important to note, that the results of field sobriety tests are significantly dependent on the administration from law enforcement. All too often, instructions are unclear, the testing environment is inadequate or something goes wrong with the administration that leads to invalid results.

If you have been arrested for DWI after your performance on field sobriety tests, contact us at the Law Office of Kevin P. O'Donnell ad we can help. Schedule your free case evaluation today to get started with your DWI defense.

Categories: DWI, Field Sobriety Tests
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