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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > What An Officer Is Looking For In the Field Sobriety Tests

What An Officer Is Looking For In the Field Sobriety Tests

When you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, an officer will ask that you perform several field sobriety tests. In Virginia, these will usually be the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one legged stand, the alphabet test, the walk and turn, and/or the finger touch test. After the performance of these tests, an officer will usually ask for you to blow into a preliminary breath test device. During these field sobriety tests an officer is looking for certain indications of your intoxication, including how well you listen, your ability to follow directions, your balance, and your dexterity.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test.

In this test the police officer is looking for involuntary jerking of the eye. This is something you cannot control; it is a response to the alcohol in your body. There are other reasons why someone may exhibit a nystagmus besides alcohol. In addition to looking for the nystagmus, an officer will get a better look at your eyes as well to see if they are glazed over, bloodshot, or watery. All of these may be indications of intoxication; however, there can also be other causes behind these symptoms.

The One Legged Stand

Another test is the one legged stand. In this test the officer is looking to see how well you follow direction and your balance. Not only does the officer look to whether you can keep your leg up and balance on your other, they also look at your arms as well, and how much you move them in order to keep your balance.

The Walk and Turn

Similar to the one legged stand, this tests your balance, spatial awareness, and the ability to follow instructions. The officer is looking for how well you keep your balance as you walk, how close together you place your toes to your heel, and if you follow their instructions.

The Finger Dexterity Test

While other tests test your balance in large ways, the finger dexterity test tests small muscle movement. Placing your fingers on your thumb in a repetitive motion tests your fine motor skills as opposed to the other tests, which large test your large motor skills. It also tests your ability to follow instructions.

Remember, an officer is looking for positive signs of your intoxication. These tests are not mandatory and you can refuse to perform them. Ultimately, a DUI is a serious matter than can have a negative impact on your family and work life. Do not leave it to chance. The Virginia attorneys at Simms Showers can help. We are experienced in a wide variety of DUI defenses and will ensure you are represented.

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