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What happens during a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2021 | DWI

Impaired driving charges often stem from traffic stops rather than crashes that injure people or damage property. When a police officer pulls you over because they suspect you have had too much to drink, they have to gather evidence before they can arrest you. 

Often, a field sobriety test is the first step in that process. An officer might let a motorist go or request that they submit to chemical testing depending on their performance during a field sobriety test. Chemical tests, if failed, will usually result in the immediate arrest of a driver. You may be wondering what an officer checks during a field sobriety test that gives them a reason to request chemical testing. 

Field sobriety tests that police officers perform

There are numerous field sobriety tests, although three of them are standard in most states. The most common field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus ones. 

The walk-and-turn test requires that someone take steps with one foot directly in front of the other in a straight line. The individual must then turn and walk back. 

In the one-leg stand test, an officer will have an individual stand on one leg, possibly while repeating or reciting information. 

An officer will look to see if a suspected intoxicated motorist makes involuntary muscle movements during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. These muscle movements become more pronounced after someone consumes alcohol. 

Failing a field sobriety test doesn’t necessarily mean that you were drunk, but it may give an officer probable cause to demand chemical testing. Learning more about what leads to drunk driving arrests can help you plan for your defense after a traffic stop leads to impaired driving charges.