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What examinations are used in field sobriety tests?


Individuals who are stopped in Wisconsin on suspicion of drunk driving may find themselves confronted with the need to perform sobriety testing. Sobriety testing is used by authorities to determine if drunk driving suspects exhibit recognized markers of intoxication. It gives police probable cause to arrest individuals on drunk driving charges and gives justification to the charges. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration there are three generally accepted forms of sobriety testing that individuals may experience during a traffic stop.

One type of test is known as horizontal gaze testing. Horizontal gaze tests evaluate a specific type of movement in a person's eyes. Alcohol makes this type of movement more pronounced. If it is exhibited in a drunk driving suspect it can provide an officer with evidence of impairment.

The second type of sobriety test often used by authorities involves greater physical movement. A drunk driving suspect is asked to walk in a specific manner and then to turn and return to where he or she started. This test demonstrates problems with balance and with a suspect's ability to follow an officer's directions.

The third and final type of sobriety test that officers can use is a straightforward balance exercise. An individual stands on one leg and holds the other off of the ground. The officer then has the suspect count until the officer says that he or she can stop. Like the walking test, the one-leg stand tests a suspect's ability to balance and use physical coordination.

Field sobriety testing provides law enforcement officials with evidence of intoxication on a drunk driving suspect. It also gives those officers justification for making drunk driving arrests. Police officers are bound to follow the laws regarding how to administer sobriety tests and the information contained in this post should not be construed as specific legal advice. Individuals with more questions about sobriety testing can seek out the assistance of trained legal professionals.

Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "Standardized Field Sobriety Testing: Appendix A," accessed on Aug. 16, 2014

Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "Standardized Field Sobriety Testing: Appendix A," accessed on Aug. 16, 2014

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