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Field Sobriety Tests


During a Drunk Driving investigation police officers may ask you to perform a wide array of tests that are aimed at assessing your level of impairment and intoxication. The problem with many field sobriety tests is that they have no basis in science; however, the jurors in a drunk driving trial are led to believe that if a person does not do well on these tests they must be intoxicated in some way.

The National Highway Traffic Administration evaluated field sobriety tests and determined that three tests were accurate indicators of intoxication and impairment when they are administered correctly:

  1. The walk and turn test
  2. The one leg stand test
  3. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test

Michigan courts in People v. Berger, determined that the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is scientifically valid if the officer is properly trained and the test was correctly performed. Other tests are simply to check your ability to pay attention and follow directions but may still be indicators of impairment based on common sense evaluation of a suspect’s performance. Thus, although a test has no scientific basis, the video of a drunk driving suspect appearing very intoxicated during that test can be used as evidence of intoxication or impairment.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving it is very important for your lawyer to determine if the field sobriety tests were performed correctly, and whether the field sobriety tests performed have a scientific basis.

At Rudoi Law we know how field sobriety tests must be properly performed and are ready to fight for our clients when police fail to perform scientifically valid tests or perform tests incorrectly.