Even though driving home after a night out is much more comfortable than using the public transportation, you should avoid getting behind the steering wheel if you are under the influence of alcohol. Otherwise, you will be forced to accept serious consequences such as fines and even an arrest. Usually, when you get pulled over, you will be required to do a field sobriety test.
What Should You Know About a Standardized Field Sobriety Test?
The field sobriety test is used by police officers to determine if the driver is truly drunk. When the test turns up positive, the authorities have probable cause to make an arrest. DUI charges can be further issued for the drunken driver. Driving under the influence or while intoxicated can have serious consequences, from penalties and fines to jail time.
This kind of test is also called roadside sobriety test, and it is usually used before the breathalyzer test. Three types of tests are applied by police officers when they pull over a driver. All these tests show the driver’s attention level, balance, physical ability as well as other factors.
This is called the “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. It is quite common when you are suspected of drunk driving. You have probably seen it in some movies. During this test, the police officer asks you to follow a moving object with your eyes. He/she will probably move a pen in front of your eyes, and you will be required to follow the movements. Nystagmus defines an involuntary eye shaking.
This condition appears when someone is under the influence of alcohol. The more intoxicated you are, the higher the shaking level is. Usually, the authority figure will move a pen in front of the driver, who will have to look slowly at the object, going all the way after its trajectory. If you cannot look at the object in a steadily way, then you should prepare yourself for further test and questioning.
People who fail the HGN test usually have a blood alcohol level higher than the legal limit of 0.08. Specialists have estimated that this test has an 88% accuracy. However, there are cases of people who suffer from this eye condition without being intoxicated. If you are one of them, a sobriety test will probably be more inconvenient for you.
This is another type of field sobriety test, called the “Walk-and-Turn test.” During this test you are required to walk a straight line, walking heel-to-toe. Moreover, during the test, you have to look down at all times and count out loud.
After nine consecutive steps, you have to turn around and do the same number of steps again, until the end of the line. If you stop before completing it, it will be considered as a failed WAT test. During this test, the police officer tries to see if you have a normally divided attention.
When you drink too much, a part of your brain that is responsible for multitasking abilities is compromised. Every police officer is searching for the following aspects when watching a walk-and-turn test:
- The ability of the driver to maintain his/her balance while following all the instructions.
- The moment in which the suspect begins the test. If it is before the police officer finishes telling all the instructions, then there is something suspicious going on.
- A driver becomes suspected when he/she stops during the test to regain his/her body balance.
- If you aren’t touching your heels with your toes, then you might get in serious trouble.
- When a driver is tested and he/she steps out of the designated line could mean that he/she is intoxicated.
- Whatever you do, do not flap your arms to maintain balance, because this can seriously worsen your situation.
- Furthermore, if you make an improper turn anywhere along the line, the police officer might consider testing your breath for BAC.
- Also, you should take the correct number of steps that the officer Usually, you are required to walk nine steps forwards and nine steps backward.
When you drink too much, your hippocampus is affected. This is a brain part that is responsible for creating new memories. Intoxicated people have a hard time remembering all the instructions that the officer gives them. According to specialists, this test has an accuracy level of 79%.
This test is called the “one-leg stand” and it has a similar effect as the Wat test, described above. During this test, the police officer pays attention to your ability to keep your balance. You are required to lift one of your feet above the ground, at around six inches’ distance.
You will have to remain still while counting until the officer tells you that you can lower your foot. The whole thing shouldn’t last more than 30 seconds. If your body sways during the test, the officer will become suspicious regarding your sobriety state.
Furthermore, when you are using your arms or putting down your foot it also means that you might get in trouble. Specialists state that this test has an accuracy of 83 percent. Moreover, all the three test detailed so far have a combined accuracy level of 91 percent.
Other Types of Field Sobriety Tests That Are Not Very Common
- Rhomberg balance test. This field sobriety test will require you to stand up while keeping your eyes closed. Meanwhile, you will have to tilt your head back. The whole thing will last 30 seconds. During this test the police officer will check your balance ability as well as any odd movements or statements, you might make.
- Finger to the nose. You will have to stand up still and straight while keeping your eyes closed. The position is similar to the one described above, in the case of Rhomberg test. You will also have to touch your nose with your index finger. If you are seriously intoxicated, your equilibrium will be significantly affected.
- Finger tap test. This is also called the “finger counting test.” You will be required to raise your palm up and touch every finger with your thumb. Also, you will have to count out loud. If you start before you are told all the instructions, if you cannot count properly, or if you cannot touch each finger, you will fail the test.
In conclusion, when you get pulled over, and you are asked to perform a field sobriety test, you should expect of some of the activities detailed above. However, be aware that every test has a subjective evaluation, even though they are all scientifically proven.