How does law enforcement assess a driver’s condition?

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | DWI |

It can be overwhelming to see the flashing lights of a law enforcement officer in your rearview mirror. Once you see police indicating that you need to pull over, you know that it is important to pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. However, you may not know what to expect or what is going to happen next. One thing that could occur is that police may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests. These are done so that law enforcement can adequately and quickly assess the condition of the driver and determine if a chemical test is necessary.

Field sobriety tests consist of three different tasks that are designed in a way that test a driver’s cognition, balance and other capabilities. If a driver does not pass the field sobriety tests, he or she may be asked to then submit a chemical test to determine his or her alcohol content. These tasks have been proven to accurately assess a driver’s ability in a majority of cases.

The details of field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests consist of three separate tasks that can determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police receive thorough training on the nature of these tests and how to effectively and accurately administer them. These tests have to be done in a certain way in order for the results to be accurate. Field sobriety tests consist of:

  • One-leg stand test – In this test, the driver will be asked to balance on one leg, with the other six inches off the ground. He or she will count backwards from 1,001 until the officer says to stop.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus – In this test, the officer will ask the driver to track an object, such as pen, with his or her eyes. A jerking of the eyes or inability to complete the task without moving the head could indicate intoxication.
  • Walk-and-turn test – In this test, a driver will be asked to walk nine steps heel to toe, stop, turn and come back the nine steps. He or she must do this without losing balance or miscounting steps.

It is helpful to know what to expect from field sobriety tests. This knowledge can be helpful when fighting a drunk driving charge, and any individual facing a DWI charge in Minnesota may benefit from seeking experienced guidance regarding how to effectively defend his or her interests. A strong defense strategy can begin with seeking an assessment of the individual case.



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