Law Office of Ronald A. Cabanayan
Law Office of
Ronald A. Cabanayan

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What are the most common field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2020 | DUI Defense

When San Jose area residents are subjected to a traffic stop by law enforcement officials, they probably immediately get nervous, even if they don’t believe they have done anything wrong. For most people, a traffic stop is the only time they will ever interact with police officers. However, drunk driving stops are incredibly common. And, during these stops, it is common for law enforcement officials to conduct field sobriety tests to attempt to make a decision about whether or not there is enough evidence that a driver is intoxicated. So, what are the most common field sobriety tests that our readers should know?

Well, for the most part, law enforcement agencies throughout the country rely upon three common field sobriety tests: the “walk and turn” test; the “one-leg stand” test; and the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, which our readers will more likely recognize as the “follow the tip of my pen with your eyes” test. Although not all of these tests will necessarily take place at every suspected DUI stop, these are the most common.

For the “walk and turn” test, the law enforcement official will ask the suspect to walk along a straight line, heel-to-toe, for a certain amount of steps, and then to turn and walk back again in the same manner. This test is usually used to test a suspect’s ability to follow directions and complete separate tasks at the same time. The “one-leg stand” test is fairly straightforward. The law enforcement officials will ask the DUI suspect to stand on one leg for a certain amount of time, without swaying or touching the ground with both feet. This test, obviously, tests a suspect’s sense of balance.

Lastly, the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test may sound highly scientific in nature, but it is actually quite a simple test. The law enforcement official will ask the suspect to follow the tip of a pen as it is moved back and forth in front of the suspect’s eyes. The officer is looking for involuntary “jerking” that can occur when a person is under the influence of alcohol to the extent of intoxication.