Police officers who spot a driver who’s swerving, stopping randomly or showing other signs of being impaired will initiate a traffic stop. They need to determine what’s going on. If they have a reason to think that the driver is impaired, they may conduct a field sobriety test.
The standardized field sobriety test is actually three tests that can help to indicate whether a driver is impaired or not. These tests must be conducted according to very exacting standards. Some officers might conduct other tests, but those aren’t part of the accepted standardized field sobriety test.
What tests are part of a standardized field sobriety test?
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizes the one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk-and-turn tests as part of the battery of tests that officers can conduct to determine impairment.
Each of these provides the officer with specific points to check. Let’s look at each of them:
- One-leg stand: This requires balance, which isn’t usually present in an impaired individual.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus: This test looks for jerking of the eyes, which is a signal of impairment.
- Walk-and-turn: This allows officers to look at the ability to complete tasks with divided attention, which isn’t usually possible by a person who’s intoxicated.
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