Field Sobriety Tests

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: This usually includes following a pen (or another small object) with your eyes without moving your head. The object is usually about twelve inches from your face, and officer is looking for involuntary eye movements as you try to follow the object.

Walk and Turn Test: In this test, you will be asked to walk a certain number of steps (heel to toe) along a straight line, turn, and walk back in the same fashion. You’ll be asked to walk as if you were on an imaginary balance beam. The officer wants to know if you can keep your balance. He is also trying to evaluate your ability to follow his instructions. Should you take too many steps, fall off the line, or not walk heel to toe, the officer’s report will record that you failed the test.

Standing on One Leg Test: During this test, you’ll be asked to place your feet together, and raise one of your legs off of the ground for at least thirty seconds or until the officer tells you to stop. You may also be asked to count aloud while your leg is raised. As with the walk and turn test, the officer is looking for your ability to balance. If you can’t stand still or balance, you may have failed this test. Moreover, the officer is hoping that you will make excuses for your performance during the course of this test.

Finger to Nose Test: This test asks you to put your feet together and stand straight. You will then be asked to lean your head back, and bring your finger to your nose while your eyes are closed. The officer is evaluating your body movements during this test, as well as your ability to find your nose.

Rhomberg Balance Test: Much like the finger to nose test, this test asks you to stand straight with your feet together. You’ll be asked to tilt your head back for thirty seconds. Not only is the officer attempting to evaluate any movement of your body at this point, he is also trying to see if you can properly count the passing time on your own. The theory behind this test is that alcohol will slow your body’s internal clock.

Hand-Pat Test: During this test, you’ll be asked to put your hand in front of you with your palm facing up. That hand will stay stationary throughout the entire test. You’ll put your other hand on top of it with the palm facing down. When the officer says go, you’ll rotate the top hand (so that the palm is facing up) 180 degrees and say one. When the officer says go again, you’ll rotate it 180 degrees again, and say two. You’ll do this procedure for at least fifteen seconds. The officer is looking for your ability to follow directions as well as the ability to keep your hands still during this test.

The Finger Count Test: The officer will ask you to put your hand in front of you with the palm facing upward. You will then be asked to use your thumb to touch your forefinger, your middle finger, your ring finger, and finally your pinky finger while counting one, two, three, four. Then you’ll be asked to repeat the procedure. The officer is, again, looking for your ability to follow instructions as well as evaluating your motor control skills.

The Counting Test: Some officers will ask you to count backward from one hundred or another like number. He or she is attempting to evaluate your ability to focus on the task at hand.

The Alphabet Test: Many officers will ask you to recite the alphabet starting at a particular letter. For example, the officer may say “Recite the alphabet starting at the letter M.” In that case, you’d be expected to say M N O P and so forth. The office is evaluating your reaction time as will as your information processing skills with this test.

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