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Types of field sobriety tests and their inaccuracies

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2022 | DUI

Drivers in Washington who are pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol are often subjected to field sobriety tests. These tests are used to gauge the balance and coordination of a driver to reveal whether the individual has excessive amounts of alcohol in his or her system. The Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) actually involves three different tests. 

One-leg stand 

The one-leg stand test was designed to test the individual’s balance. In this test, the driver is asked to stand on one leg with the other foot about six inches off the ground. The person must then count up from 1,001 until the officer tells them to put their foot down. 

Horizontal gaze nystagmus 

Horizontal gaze nystagmus is the involuntary “jerking” of the eyeball. This happens to every person when their eyes pivot at high peripheral angles. In a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the officer moves an object slowly from side to side and asks the individual to follow it with their eyes.  

Walk and turn 

The walk-and-turn test is used to evaluate balance and coherence. In this test, the officer asks the individual to take several steps in a straight line, heel-to-toe. The individual is then asked to turn on one foot and return in the same manner. 

While field sobriety tests are used to gauge sobriety, it is important to remember that they can be inaccurate. There are several personal health factors that can skew the results of these tests. Failing any of these tests, regardless of reasons, can result in a DUI charge. Luckily, those in Washington who have been charged with a DUI have options available to help them defend against a DUI charge. By consulting a seasoned and skilled attorney, those charged can obtain much needed guidance while ensuring that their personal rights remain protected.