Under the suspicion of drunk driving or, in some cases, after an accident, police may ask a driver to engage in a sobriety test. Police are trained to do one of two sobriety tests:
- Breath test: police may use a small, mobile tool that evaluates a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). If the BAC levels are 0.08% or higher, then the test taker is unlawfully driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This may lead to a driving while impaired (DWI) charge.
- Field sobriety test: before a breath test, police may ask the driver to step outside of the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test. There are typically three commonly used field sobriety tests. These tests allow the officer to evaluate a driver’s inebriation levels.
A DWI charge can lead to serious criminal charges, fines, license revocation and incarceration. To better avoid a DWI charge, drivers may want to learn more about sobriety tests. Here’s what you should know:
What are the different field sobriety tests?
As stated above, there are three commonly used field sobriety tests. The following may be done:
- Horizontal gaze test: the officer will ask the driver to focus on a single point (a finger, pen or flashlight) without moving their head. The officer is likely looking for any rapid eye movement or delays.
- One-legged stand test: the driver will be asked to stand on one leg, while the officer evaluates their balance.
- Walk-and-turn test: the officer may have the suspect walk on a straight line and walk back to where they started. If the driver stumbles or fails to stay straight, then they may fail the test.
The above are commonly referred to as standardized field sobriety tests (SFST). Any test that isn’t one of the above may be referred to as a non-standardized field sobriety test, such as counting in multiples of three, squatting in place or listing the alphabet backward.
Do you have to take sobriety tests?
Many people feel they shouldn’t have to take sobriety tests. It should be noted that, legally speaking, people have to take a breath test following the implied consent laws. However, SFSTs aren’t legally bound to implied consent laws, or, in other words, drivers won’t face penalties for refusing an SFST.
If you’re facing a DWI, then you may need to ensure you have a strong defense. Many sobriety tests end up causing the wrong people to face criminal charges.