Should I Take Field Sobriety Tests?

Should I Take Field Sobriety Tests?Clients often ask us, “Should I take field sobriety tests?” The answer is always no. Field sobriety tests are conducted to determine the level of intoxication of a person, that is, if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. SFST stands for Standard Field Sobriety Tests and they were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

These tests include:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
  • Walk and Turn (WAT)
  • One Leg Stand (OLS)


The horizontal gaze nystagmus considers involuntary jerking of the eye as one rolls the eyes from side to side. The test is usually done by moving an object such as a pen around the eyes such that the eyeball will follow it. The head has to remain stationary in this action. The examiner, in this case the police officer, will look for signs that suggest impairment such as:
1. The eye does not smoothly follow the object.
2. The eye jerks distinctly at points of maximum elevation.
3. The jerking starts at a 45 degree angle from the center.

Walk and Turn

Walk and Turn involves a nine-step walk from heels to toes, on a straight line, turn around on one foot and walk nine steps back. The examiner searches for intoxication evidence such as:
1. While listening to instructions the person cannot keep their balance.
2. He/she starts before the examiner is through giving instructions.
3. They halt in between the walk to regain balance.
4. They can’t execute the heel-to-toe.
5. They cannot walk in a straight line.
6. They have to use their arms to maintain balance.
7. They cannot do the turn properly.
8. They take an inaccurate number of steps.

One Leg Stand

A person is instructed to stand on one leg with the other about six inches off the ground. The person should then count to a given number or until they are told to stop. Impairment indicators would be things such as hopping, swaying, or using arms in order to achieve or maintain balance.

Among sobriety test deficiencies are the lack of norms on how various people within different age groups behave when sober. this guarantees admissibility in a court of law. A review of thousands of arrest videos showed that most police officers made mistakes while administering the test, but more often than not the arrest is made anyway.
Despite procedural mistakes on the officer’s part, sometimes the evidence still can be used against you in a court of law within some states.

Respectfully Refuse All Field Sobriety Tests

How you perform is subject to the opinion of the officer who arrested you. Therefore in videos where the clip did not capture the suspect walking, the officer’s testimony can be accepted as evidence in court. Refusing to take any of these tests is allowable and does not in any way affect one’s driving privileges. The best course of action is to politely refuse these exercises. Accepting to participate in these tests increases chances of arrest for drunk driving.

Atlanta DUI Lawyer Bubba Head

Call now and talk directly with a DUI attorney at (844) 832-6384 day or night. We will explain how field sobriety test evidence can be suppressed.