Field Sobriety Test

What is a Standardized Field Sobriety Test? As I said at the beginning of the last article, do not drink and drive! With that said, once you have been stopped, the officer may ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform a Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Remember you can refuse to take the test! The SFST consists of three parts:  Heel-Toe-Turn, Single Leg Balance and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.

The Heel-Toe-Turn Test

During this test you are asked to walk 7/8 steps in a straight line placing your heel against the previous toe and you must keep your arms at your sides.  At the end of the steps, you are supposed turn and walk back to your original position.  Any wavering, loss of balance, or raising of your arms could constitute failure of this test.  Obviously, any current or old injuries may impact your ability to perform this test; also, uneven roadway, gravel or your footwear can make it difficult to perform this test. When asked to perform this test 4 out of 10 sober individuals gave indications that may get them designated as intoxicated.

One Leg Balance Test

This test is exactly what it sounds like. You will be asked to balance on one foot while keeping your arms at your sides. Just like the last test your ability to pass this test will have a lot to do with how level the road is beneath your feet, gravel and also how close you are to stationary objects (it is very hard to balance in the dark with no buildings or trees to give you adequate depth perception.)  In the end, 4 out 10 sober individuals will fail this test

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The final test is an eye movement test. The officer moves a pen right to left in front of your face and watches how smoothly and evenly your eyes move. We could spend three whole articles on how flawed this test is; instead, let me just say that without the other two tests officers were only right 40% of the time in determining sobriety.

What should you do?

It is this author’s opinion that the SFST is only reasonably accurate when all 3 tests are administered correctly by one officer.  Because there is so much room for error, it just does not make sense to agree to take these tests.  Just say No!