Field Sobriety Tests: What You Need to Know If You Get Pulled Over for DUI

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Nov 21


Field Sobriety Tests: What You Need to Know If You Get Pulled Over for DUI

by Anonymous

If you’re pulled over for drunk driving, the officer may ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform various tests. These are known as field sobriety tests. They help police officers assess a driver's level of impairment and are typically administered when an officer suspects that the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

There are three common field sobriety tests. 

Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test

Walk-and-turn test

One-leg stand test

As a driver in Seattle, you are not required to take field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are flawed in many ways. They are subjective, meaning that the results can be influenced by the officer's opinion. They are also not very accurate, especially when administered outdoors or in low-light conditions. Instead, you can request to submit a blood or breath test. If you refuse to submit to any test, however, you will get arrested and face severe consequences. 

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (Hgn) Test

The HGN test is simple and can be performed without any special equipment. The officer will ask you to look at a pen or other object held at eye level. The officer will then slowly move the object from side to side and ask you to follow it with your eyes. He looks for involuntary jerking of your eyes, known as nystagmus. Nystagmus is a common sign of alcohol and drug impairment.

Unfortunately, the HGN test can be affected by several factors other than alcohol intoxication, such as fatigue, stress, and certain medications, such as anticonvulsants or sedatives. Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Parkinson's disease can also affect balance and eye coordination.

Walk-And-Turn Test

For the walk-and-turn test, the officer will ask you to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line for nine steps, touch your heel to your toe, turn around, and walk back in the same manner.

The officer will be looking for the following signs of impairment:

Inability to walk heel-to-toe

Stepping off the line

Using your arms to balance

Taking more than nine steps

Turning around before touching your heel to your toe

The walk-and-turn test is difficult for some people to perform, even if they are sober. Factors such as age, footwear, and the road's surface can all affect a person's performance on this test. For this reason, the walk-and-turn test can result in drivers getting arrested for DUI when they’re not impaired. 

One-Leg Stand Test

For the one-leg stand test, the officer will ask you to stand on one leg with your other foot raised six inches off the ground. You will be asked to count aloud for 30 seconds.

The officer will be looking for the following signs of impairment:


Putting your foot down

Using your arms to balance


Just like the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand is difficult for many individuals to perform, even when they haven’t been drinking. People with balance problems, such as those with inner ear disorders, neurological conditions, or musculoskeletal injuries, may find it difficult to perform the one-leg stand test. 

In addition to these specific flaws, field sobriety tests are also flawed because they are subjective. The officer administering the test is responsible for interpreting the results, and there is no objective standard for determining whether or not a person has failed a test. This means that the results of field sobriety tests can be influenced by the officer's personal biases and prejudices.

For all of these reasons, individuals should request another type of test, such as a breathalyzer test or a blood test, if they are asked to take field sobriety tests. Breathalyzer tests and blood tests are much more accurate than field sobriety tests, and they are also less subjective.

If you are arrested for DUI and refuse to take field sobriety tests, you may still be arrested, but the officer will need to have probable cause to do so. Probable cause means that the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. If the officer does not have probable cause, you should be released.

Contact Our Seattle DUI Defense Lawyers Today

If you’re arrested and charged with a DUI, you need someone who can go the extra mile for you. When you hire Seattle DUI Defense Attorneys from Lewis & Laws, you have the best chance of getting through this ordeal while safeguarding your future. Even if this is not your first DUI, we can help. 

At Lewis & Laws, we offer aggressive legal assistance after a DUI arrest in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Washington state. Contact us today to explore your legal options. Protect your future, driving record, and insurance rates, and call us today

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