Types of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Different Types of SFST’s (Standardized Field Sobriety Tests)

As you know, a police officer may pull you over for many reasons such as speeding, reckless driving, running a red light and much more. However, one the most common reason of being pulled over is under the suspicion of drunk driving. Police officers are trained to spot an impaired driver very easily, but still, before jumping to any conclusion, they must conduct a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. This article will be focused on explaining different types of sobriety tests and their importance.

field sobriety test being performed

Signs That Arise The Suspicion of Drunk Driving

So, before we discuss these tests, let’s see what signs indicate that someone is possibly driving under the influence of alcohol. If a police officer spots a driver that is driving at unreasonably low or high speed, ignoring traffic signs or driving without lights, he has a good reason to pull over the driver. Also, if the driver changes lanes frequently or makes dangerous wide turns, turns without using the driving signals and so on, he/she will definitely be pulled over to do a field sobriety test.

Nowadays, many people find sobriety tests controversial since they are based on a subjective opinion of a police officer. There are three standardized types of field sobriety tests – the one-leg stand, the walk and turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

The One Leg Stand

The one leg stand test is successfully done if you can stand on one leg for 30 seconds while counting aloud. Your foot must be about six inches from the ground, and it will be considered that you have failed if you put your foot down or try to balance with your arms.

The Walk And Turn Test

When it comes to the walk-and-turn test, you will perform it successfully if you manage to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line and after that, make a turn and walk nine steps back. You’re not allowed to maintain your balance with your arms or miscount your number of steps. Also, if you are unable to walk heel-to-toe, you will fail the test.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The horizontal gaze nystagmus is performed by an officer positioning an object (such as a pen or a finger) ten inches from your face and then moving the object from one side to another, observing the eye movement. If involuntary eye jerking movement is noticed, you will fail the test.

The test is considered the most accurate of the mentioned three and research has shown it has accuracy over 77%. This type of test is so reliable because it occurs when something is affecting the oculomotor control of the eye or the inner ear system. It manifests as involuntary jerking movement when a person looks to the side. Alcohol and drugs depress the nervous system, affecting the ability of the brain to control the eye muscles accurately. The nystagmus can be more noticeable (or very visible) if a person has high blood alcohol content level.


Challenge Your SFSTs with A DUI Lawyer

Even though all three tests have proved to be very accurate and are used by law enforcement every day to assess a person’s blood alcohol level, a quality DUI lawyer can challenge its credibility in court. Since the tests mostly depend on the individual opinion of a police officer, field sobriety tests can be rejected in court as evidence. A strong case cannot be built without additional tests, like breathalyzer tests and urine or blood analysis. However, that doesn’t mean you’re safe. You can still be arrested for DUI and even convicted if you don’t have the proper legal representation. Only by getting the right professional assistance, you can get the most positive outcome of the case.