Payson Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are often a major contributing factor to a police officer’s decision to arrest a driver for DUI. People recognize some of these tests, like walking a straight line or touching your fingers to your nose, from TV shows and movies. A police officer conducts field sobriety tests to gather information that will be used against you in a criminal prosecution. It is rarely a good idea to attempt to complete a Payson field sobriety test. Most people would be unable to “pass” these tests even in the best of circumstances, let alone on the side of the road in the middle of the night with a police officer watching your every move. And even if you do believe that you “passed” the tests, the officer may think otherwise.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Police officers have a list of field sobriety tests that they may attempt to conduct if they believe a person is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As mentioned above, a driver has little to gain by completing the field sobriety tests, as any evidence gathered during the tests will be used against you. Although field sobriety tests are not considered “pass/fail” tests, an officer is unlikely to send you on your way even if you perform relatively well on these tests.

Rather than pointing out your successes on these tests, an officer will document every single instance that he believes is a mistake, regardless of how minuscule that mistake is. Even something as trivial as a slight sway of 1 inch will be documented and used against you. For instance, on the Walk and Turn test, officers are looking for 8 possible clues of impairment. Their training tells them they only need to see 2 out of the possible 8 clues to conclude that you may be impaired to drive—even if you aced the other 6 clues.

The most common field sobriety tests include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): An officer asks you to follow his pen or finger with your eyes while he moves it from side to side.
  • Walk and Turn: Walking a straight line for 9 heel-to-toe steps, turning around and walking an additional 9 heel-to-toe steps.
  • One Leg Stand: Balancing on one leg for 30 seconds.
  • Romberg: Standing with your head tilted back, eyes closed, and asked to estimate the passage of 30 second.
  • Finger to Nose: Touching the tip of your finger to the tip of your nose with your head tilted back slightly.
  • Finger Count: Touching each of your fingers to your thumb in a particularized order.

Accuracy of Field Sobriety Testing During DUI Arrest

For each of these tests, there are a litany of issues that could affect their reliability. It is possible for a person to not perform well on these tests even without any alcohol or drugs in their system. A skilled Payson DUI defense attorney will be able to challenge a police officer’s administration of the field sobriety tests, which may lead to suppression of evidence, reduced charges, dismissed charges or other favorable outcomes.

If you were pulled over and arrested after performing field sobriety tests, call the Rosenstein Law Group at 480-248-7666 or contact us online for a free consultation and case evaluation.


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