Field Sobriety Tests

You have the right to refuse any field sobriety test. Law enforcement officers are trained to gather as much evidence as possible against individuals who are suspected of driving under the influence. Field sobriety tests are a common tool used to build a case against you.

Field Sobriety Tests are commonly classified into two groups:

  • Standard Field Sobriety Tests  (SFST)
  • Non-Standard Field Sobriety Tests  (NSFST)

Standard Field Sobriety Tests
There are three evaluations developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • One Leg Stand
  • Walk and Turn
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs naturally as the eyes move to the side.  Usually, this test is conducted by moving an object side to side in front of a person’s face, and asking them to follow it with their eyes.  The head must remain stationary.  The examiner looks for three indicators of impairment:  1)  If the eye cannot follow the moving object smoothly.  2)  If the eye is jerking. 3)  If the angle at which jerking starts is within 45-degrees of center.

Walk and Turn
The Walk and Turn test is conducted by having a person take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line, followed by a turn on one foot and nine steps back in the same direction.  The examiner looks for eight indicators of impairment:  If the subject 1)  Cannot keep balance while listening to instructions.  2)  Begins before instructions are finished.  3)  Stops while walking to regain balance.  4)  Does not touch heel-to-toe.  5)  Steps off the line.  6)  Uses arms to keep balance.  7)  Makes an improper turn.  8)  Takes an incorrect number of steps.

One Leg Stand
The One Leg Stand test is conducted by having a person stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud to a specific number, or until told to stop.  The examiner looks for four indicators of impairment:  1)  Swaying while balancing.  2)  Using arms to balance.  3)  Hopping to maintain balance.  4)  Putting the foot down.

Non-Standardized Field Tests
NSFST are classified as any other mental or coordination test an officer may give to a subject in an effort to determine impairment.  These commonly include:

  • Rhomberg Balance Test
  • Finger to Nose Test
  • Finger Count Test
  • Hand Pat Test
  • ABCs
  • Numbers Backward Test

Through our firm’s case preparation and trial experience, we are well versed with each field sobriety test. The Mikell Law Firm will explore all the facts surrounding your field sobriety tests and aggressively contest any violation of your rights.

Contact Us

To discuss your legal options with an experienced Charleston SC, DUI Lawyer, contact the Mikell Law Firm at 843-849-1615.