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Field Sobriety Testing

Up until the mid 1970s, most police departments used various types of field sobriety tests when enforcing drunk driving laws. At that time, when someone was stopped, there was very little in the way of standardization when it came to the tests administered during drunk driving arrests. Because of the lack of regularity, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set out to identify the best tests for enforcement along with a means of standardization. It was in 1977, when NHTSA sponsored a study wherein researchers identified which tests being used throughout the country were the most effective. Out of the many different tests in use, the researchers identified three different tests as the best.

Three Sobriety Tests

The tests included the “Walk-and-turn,” the “One-leg-stand,” and the “Horizontal gaze nystagmus” tests, as the most accurate, practical, and reliable tests. Today those three tests are known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test Battery, which forms the foundation of the NHTSA training program for police officers. NHTSA maintains that only the three-test battery is validated for accuracy.

Field Sobriety Tests Are Optional

The tests are physical agility exercises that are subjective in nature and are designed to make sure the accused to fails. Most people have no idea that these tests are actually optional and that police officers that give these tests will not tell the person who has been stopped that the tests are optional. In fact, any person is perfectly within their rights to politely refuse to take the Field Sobriety Tests. The Nystagmus Test is given by placing an object 12 inches from the driver’s face and is then moved from side to side while watching the subject’s eyes to determine involuntary jerking or trembling of the eyeball, a sign the subject has consumed an intoxicant.

  • The Walk and Turn exercise is having the subject take nine heel-to-toe steps along a line, turn and then nine heel-to-toe steps back. In this exercise, the officer watches to see if the accused keeps his or her balance, leaves space between heel and toe, steps off the line or loses balance.
  • When administering the Standing on One Leg exercise, the accused is asked to stand with their heels together, arms at the side and then asked to raise one leg six inches off the ground while counting out loud until they are told to stop. In this exercise, the officer is observing whether there is a raising of arms, swaying, hopping, putting the foot down, an inability to stand still, body, muscle tension.
  • The Finger to Nose test requires the accused to place his or her feet together while standing straight with eyes closed. They are asked to bring the index finger to the nose as ordered by the office. Here the officer is looking for body tremors, swaying of the body, eyelid tremors, or possibly any statements made by the accused to support intoxication.

Your best chance in winning a DUI case is having a drunk driving lawyer who knows what he or she is doing. Regardless of the circumstances, when you retain a DUI attorney from Straight DUI you get the legal help you need to guide you through the entire process. If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, you want someone who cares what happens to you. Even if you’re guilty, a qualified DWI lawyer can determine the areas of proof against you in ways you would never think of yourself. Don’t be foolish when it comes to something so important. Contact us at and let us assist you with your case.

About the DUI Attorneys at Straight DUI

The DUI lawyers at Straight DUI do everything they can to help you when it comes to DUI. To get you off, keep your record clean and prevent you from losing your license to drive, we start by believing that you shouldn’t have been arrested, so with that uppermost in our minds, we fight for you. When you place yourself in the hands of the knowledgeable DUI attorneys at, you know you will be treated fairly and will receive the best defense possible. We understand how important a good defense is to your case and so we do everything to protect your rights.Call us at 1 (877) 420-6719 and let us help.
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