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Easley Law Firm

Field Sobriety Tests: Knowing What to Expect to Decrease Confusion and False DUI Charges

The results of field sobriety tests are key pieces of evidence for charging you with a DUI. This is why it is important to know what kinds of tests you may have to perform and what each test entails. Otherwise, you may wind up being falsely charged with a DUI.

Field Sobriety Balance Tests

Since alcohol can make you dizzy and physically unstable, balancing can be a good way to determine if you’re too drunk to handle driving. The following balance tests may be given at the roadside:

  • Rhomberg balance test. The officer will ask you to stand straight with your heels together. You will then be asked to tilt your head back and close your eyes for 30 seconds. You will not be permitted to count out loud and the officer will leave it up to you to determine when the 30 seconds is over. If you lose balance, stumble, sway, open your eyes early, or are unable to determine when the 30 seconds is over, your sobriety may be called into question.
  • Walk and turn. The standard walk and turn will require you to take nine heel-to-toe steps, make an exact 180 degree turn and then retrace the nine steps back. When walking the straight line, you must keep your arms to your sides, focus on your feet, and count each step as you make it. If you falter, are unable to count, or must stop periodically throughout the test, you will fail the test.
  • Standing on one leg. The test requires you to stand straight with your heels together until the officer asks you to raise one leg approximately six inches off the ground. You will then be instructed to count out loud to ten before switching legs. If you’re unable to perform the task without stumbling, you will fail.

Physical Motion Impairment Tests

As alcohol can interrupt communication between the brain and the body’s physical function, these movement tests may be used:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus. Alcohol can hinder your brain’s ability to control eye muscles, causing the eyeballs to jerk and bounce. Therefore, an officer may ask you to focus on an object as he slowly moves it back and forth, up and down, and diagonally. If you’re unable to follow the movements or your eyes jerk involuntarily, the officer will have a good indication that you’ve been drinking.
  • Finger to nose. This test requires you to stand straight with your heels together, your head slightly tilted back, and your eyes closed. You then must raise your arms to the sides (forming a “T”) and bend your arms to touch your nose with your pointer fingers. The officer will monitor your motions and take note of any instability or inability to complete the task.

Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test

If one or more of the above tests indicate alcohol use, a field breath test may be given.

  • Breathalyzer. A breathalyzer test requires you breathe into a handheld inhaler that can detect the amount of alcohol on your breath. The breathalyzer will then estimate your blood alcohol level and if it is above the legal limit of 0.08, you’ll be charged with a DUI.

If you have questions about your field sobriety test results, contact us today. We will explain your rights and fight to make sure you’re not taken advantage of. Although we believe drinking and driving should not be tolerated, we also believe that you shouldn’t be punished for something you didn’t do. Make an appointment for your free consultation now!

Darwyn L. Easley
Attorney and Counsellor at Law

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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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