When an individual is pulled over for suspicion of being under the influence, field sobriety tests are usually conducted roadside to determine their level of intoxication. These tests are used by officers to establish probable cause for arrest. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed Standard Field Sobriety Tests that are used in Georgia and across the nation. Here are some of the most common.
The HGN Test, or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
This test is one of the most widely accepted because it has scientific validity if done correctly. During the test, the officer that pulled you over will have you follow an object, such as a pen, with your eyes. The officer is looking for signs of impairment called nystagmus (or the involuntary jerking of the eye) at various places. Some medical conditions and prescription drugs can also influence your eye nystagmus, so it’s not always an indication of being under the influence.
The Walk-and-Turn Test
When this test is administered, you’ll be expected to walk 9 steps heel-to-toe, then turn and walk the 9 steps back. With this seemingly-simple task, the officer will give you a battery of instructions to follow. If you don’t follow directions properly (such as performing the turn exactly as the officer demonstrates), the officer will assume you’re under the influence. However, there may be many reasons you did not perform the test properly: physical conditions, footwear, balance problems, age, etc.
The One-Leg-Stand Test
During this test, you’ll be asked to stand on one leg without swaying or falling over. If you can’t do it properly, again while following the precise instructions of the officer, you may be charged with a DUI. However, the test results may be skewed if the driver is affected by prescription drugs, is wearing high heels, is overweight, or has poor night vision.
The Rhomberg Test
The Rhomberg Test is becoming more popular with Georgia police officers, but there’s been no scientific correlation between test results and impairment. In this test, you’re required to stand with your feet together, lean your head back to look up, and hold your arms out to the side. You’ll then be asked to close your eyes and estimate time passing for 30 seconds while the officer looks for your inability to estimate time, eyelid tremors, or body swaying.
As experienced DUI attorneys, Savannah DUI suggests that you not attempt any of these tests when pulled over. Scientific studies have concluded that these tests were made to fail. There are no norms based on sober drivers, the majority of police officers make mistakes in administration but can still use the three-test battery against you in court, and scoring is objective. Instead, ask to call your lawyer. Savannah DUI can be reached at (912) 221-4441. We offer a free consultation and flat fees.