Field sobriety tests are the general name for any process by which an officer is attempting to determine whether or not an individual was intoxicated while driving. While there are casual field sobriety tests which involve counting, reciting the alphabet, and touching one’s nose with their finger; there are only three formal sobriety tests which have been tested in labs by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA). These are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus sobriety test is used to determine if an individual can focus on a pen with their eyes. When an individual has consumed alcohol, their eyes will jerk and have difficulty following objects.
The walk-and-turn sobriety test is used to determine if an individual can complete tasks with divided attention. When an individual is impaired, it is difficult for them to multitask. Officers will often give an individual a set of mentally and physically stimulating instructions involving walking in a straight line, taking nine steps, and turning on one foot.
The one leg stand sobriety test is used to determine if an individual has the ability to balance. When an individual is under the influence, balancing on one foot is a difficult task. Officers will ask an individual to stand with one foot a few inches off the ground.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus sobriety test has around a 70 percent accuracy rate. If an individual has an eye pathology and therefore has difficulty following the pen smoothly, they could unjustly fail the test.
The walk-and-turn sobriety test has about a 70 percent accuracy rate. The test does not take into consideration that it is difficult for an individual to multitask attention both mentally and physically if they are under pressure.
The one-legged stand sobriety test has around a 65 percent accuracy rate. The test does not take into consideration that some individuals have issues with their knees or feet.
An officer’s ability to faultlessly execute a test clearly plays an immense role in whether or not an individual will pass or fail a Fredericksberg field sobriety test. If an officer moves the pen incorrectly in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, or does not clearly explain the instructions for the walk- and- turn sobriety test for example, these factors could determine that an individual is under the influence when that is not the case.
Field sobriety tests are not always accurate. From the general inaccuracies to the inaccuracies on the part of an officer, there are many ways in which an individual can unjustly fail a Fredericksberg field sobriety test. This is why it is extremely important for individuals to consult an attorney if they believe they have been unjustly charged. An experienced Fredericksburg DUI attorney can help you figure out the best way to proceed with your case.