When a police officer flashes their squad car lights to pull you over after a night out, there’s a great chance they will ask you to do a series of field sobriety tests. Passing these tests probably means you are sober enough to drive, while failing them can give a cop a reason to charge you with a DUI.
DUI penalties are unlike typical punishments you may face from moving violations like speeding or running a stop sign. This because even first-time offenders can receive a misdemeanor charge. To prevent from a mark on your criminal record you should only drive when you know you are sober.
However, if you end up on the side of the road because a police officer suspects you are driving under the influence or you’re passing a DUI checkpoint, here are the three standardized field sobriety tests you can expect to take:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: Through this test, an officer will have a suspect follow an object, like a pen or flashlight, with their eyes. If the suspect’s eyes jerk or are unable to follow the object, then they might fail this test.
- One-leg stand test: This test is pretty self-explanatory. DUI suspects who agree to take this one will have to simultaneously lift one leg six inches off the ground and keep their balance while counting for a total of 30 seconds.
- Walk and turn test: When a suspect takes the walk and turn test, the officer will ask them to take nine steps in a straight line, then turn around and walk back the same way.
An officer might also ask you to perform some non-standardized tests. This could include having you recite some or all of the alphabet or count your fingers by tapping them on your thumb.
Failure of these tests can signalize impairment and give the officer a reason to charge you with a DUI. So, following the instructions of the police officer with attention and care is crucial.
It’s important to note that there are barriers that can make it difficult for even a sober person to fail standard and not-so-standard tests. But if you are a loved one is facing a DUI, then a criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal process.