Field sobriety tests are one tool that police officers use to make DUI arrests. Unfortunately, these tests aren't always given properly, nor do they provide sufficient evidence of intoxication. What are these tests and just how reliable are they?

Field sobriety tests consist of three steps – Walk and Turn, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, and One Leg Stand.

Walk and Turn

This test seems simple enough – you walk nine steps, turn and walk another nine steps back the starting point. This test not only helps the officer determine if your balance is off, but it also helps him or her determine if you are capable of following instructions that are given.

The testing officer is to find a flat, dry, hard surface to administer the test. He or she is also to determine if you are physically capable of completing this test – are you overweight, have any back or neck injuries or have an ear infection. If you suffer from any of these conditions or the test is performed on an inadequate surface, the results of the test will be skewed and possibly unusable in court.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is given to test how smoothly your eyes can follow movement. A Nystagmus is a twitch or jerk in your eyes.

During this test, the officer will ask you to follow his or her finger from side to side. As you do, the officer watches your eyes closely for any twitch or jerk.

Unfortunately for officers, there are a few things that can cause false positive results including: medications you may be taking, head trauma, ear infections, moving lights or passing cars, dust and even wind can cause your eyes to twitch during the test.

One Leg Stand

How well can you stand on one leg with your arms tightly held at your sides and both legs kept completely straight? Try it just once while you are sober – it's not that easy to do even when you don't have a drink.

The officer will ask you to stand as described above and will watch for swaying motions, your attempt to use your arms to keep your balance, hopping to try to balance yourself and putting the lifted foot on the ground to keep yourself from falling over. If he or she notices one or a combination of these movements, you failed the test.

If you have been charged with a DUI, hire a DUI lawyer to help you get through the situation with the least severe consequences. He or she may be able to use the results or prove that there was failure to administer these tests properly and have your charges reduced or dismissed.

For professional legal services, contact a law firm such as Eric J. Engan Attorney At Law