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What is the purpose of field sobriety testing?

A traffic stop based on suspected drunk driving can be an intimidating experience for a Tennessee resident. Even if they have not had a drop of alcohol to drink they may be asked to undertake assessments that will allegedly determine their level of sobriety. Many readers are familiar with the breath, blood, and urine tests that law enforcement officials can use to test for the presence of alcohol in a person's body. When they make traffic stops based on suspected drunk driving, police officers may also administer field sobriety tests.

A field sobriety test will usually involve three separate assessments. Before law enforcement officials may use them to test drivers' sobriety, those officers must be trained on how to administer them. That is because the erroneous application of standards to individuals undergoing field sobriety tests may result in incorrect conclusions about the sobriety of drivers.

Field sobriety tests use physical cues to evaluate if drivers are sober. For example, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test looks at whether a driver's eyes move erratically when they look to one side. This can be an indicator of intoxication. The one leg stand and walk and turn tests examine a driver's balance, coordination, and capacity to follow instructions. The sum of the test results may be used to offer evidence of a driver's possible intoxication.

Drivers should be aware of how they are being evaluated when they are asked to perform the assessments included in field sobriety testing. It is possible for law enforcement officials to make mistakes when they are directing drivers through the steps of assessment, and any drivers whose rights are violated when these tests are undertaken should discuss their legal concerns with their DUI defense attorneys.

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NCDD National College for DUI Defense: Samuel A Byrd