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What to expect from a field sobriety test

When you're pulled over and a police officer suspects you of drunk driving, he or she may administer a field sobriety test. Depending on the results, you may be sent on your way or you may be facing DUI charges. We've all seen them on TV and in the movies but what exactly are they and how do they work?

Here are some of the most common Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, all of which are endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration:

  • Walk and turn. This is the one we've all seen; an officer will ask you to walk a straight line in a heel-to-toe manner, usually for about nine steps, turn and return to the officer. For an unimpaired person, this is a fairly easy task. For someone whose balance is hindered, it can be a tall order.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus In this common test, the officer will have you stare at an object and then move that object from side to side. An impaired person's eyes will jerk more than normal and many intoxicated people have trouble staying focused on the object.
  • One-leg stand. This one is exactly how it sounds. You'll be asked to stand on one leg for a period of time. Swaying or losing your balance will be taken as a sign of intoxication.

If you've failed a field sobriety test and been charged with a DUI, an attorney may be able to help you by questioning the techniques used in your field sobriety test (among other factors).

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