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What are field sobriety tests?

When assessing a driver for drunk driving, a law enforcement officer may use any number of tools to determine if an arrest is warranted. They may ask a driver to blow into a breathalyzer or they may use observational assessments to determine if the driver is impaired. These assessments are known as field sobriety tests and they generally involve several standardized assessments.

One common field sobriety test is the one-leg stand. This self-explanatory test requires a person to stand on one foot without setting the other foot down. They are required to hold their balance without stepping out of the hold; doing so may indicate some level of impairment.

Similarly, the walk and turn test assesses whether a person is capable of walking in a straight line, toe to heel, and is able to turn and walk back in the same manner. The failure of an individual to hold their balance and body control may show intoxication. The third commonly used field sobriety test that New York drivers may be asked to perform is the horizontal gaze nystagmus, which observes whether the driver exhibits any uncontrolled eye movement.

While these and other field sobriety tests may be indicative of some level of impairment or intoxication, they may not always be accurate. The physical disabilities, medications, and other conditions of a driver may impact how they drive and how they respond to assessments. This post should not be used by readers as medical or legal advice, and any driver facing drunk driving charges should talk to their own attorney about their defense options.

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