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What should you know about field sobriety tests?

If an officer pulls you over on suspicion of intoxicated driving, you will likely face several tests to prove your sobriety. One of these tests might be a field sobriety test. You may have heard of them before, but what do you know about them? 

Most importantly, how can a field sobriety test result impact your trial? If you fail one, should you feel concerned? Is there anything you can do? 

What are field sobriety tests used for?

Verywell Mind takes a look at field sobriety tests. Officers use these tests to check several things in a potentially intoxicated person, including their: 

  • Balance 
  • Agility 
  • Mobility 
  • Ability to follow instructions 
  • Certain physical tics, like eye tremors 

Tests fall under two categories: standardized and non-standardized. Officers are more likely to use standardized tests. They have a unified rubric used across the nation. Thus, it helps eliminate officer bias in determining results. Courts often give these tests more weight accordingly. Because of the unified rubric requirement, officers only have three standardized tests. This includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-legged stand. 

Many more tests fall under the non-standardized category. This can include counting backwards from one hundred or reciting the alphabet backwards. 

How important are these test results?

In general, courts do not put a lot of weight in field sobriety tests. Of course, you should take all test results seriously. Just know that field sobriety tests are not known for their accuracy. In many trials, they end up dismissed due to various reasons that range from improper testing technique to health conditions the defendant may have. 

If you take and fail a field sobriety test, it is not the end. Consider contacting an experienced attorney, however. They can help you determine what to do next.