What are Field Sobriety Tests?

Police officers who stop you on suspicion of DWI can ask you to perform a Field Sobriety Test to help determine if you are indeed intoxicated. One of three tests will likely be administered: the one leg stand test, horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), or the walk and turn test.

During a one leg stand test, the officer will ask you to stand on one leg and keep the other foot about six inches off the ground for 20 to 30 seconds. Officers are trained to look for signs of imbalance. When attempting to pass this test, it can help to focus on a distant object to keep your balance such as a tree or building while counting out loud.

The walk and turn test asks you to walk nine steps in a straight line stepping heel to toe, after which you will be asked to turn and walk back in the same manner. This is a similar test of balance as well as your ability to follow directions.

Signs of imbalance police look for include:

  • Hesitating to regain your balance
  • Starting the test before being given instructions
  • Using the arms to keep your balance
  • Not touching your heel to your toe
  • Taking the incorrect number of steps

While performing the test well may seem simple, it can be stressful to do in the presence of law enforcement. Practicing the test beforehand at home can be beneficial.

The HGN test involves an officer asking you to follow an object such a pen or the officer’s finger with your eyes as they move it from right to left. Officers look for an involuntary jerking motion made by your eyes as you follow the object horizontally.

These tests may seem scientific but even sober people can fail them. Some people do not have a good sense of balance or medical conditions which can make it difficult to pass an HGN test in the first place.

You may feel as if you performed the test poorly, but a skilled New York DWI lawyer can dispute the results of your test and challenge any resulting DWI charges. Michael Musa-Obregon can defend your rights when charged with DWI, so call our firm today!

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