Field Sobriety Tests in Las Vegas

What You Need to Know

A field sobriety test is administered by a law enforcement officer in the event of a police stop for suspected DUI. After pulling over a motorist, the officer may ask him or her to submit to any of a number of tests which are meant to determine whether the motorist's physical and mental abilities are impaired. They test coordination and the ability to follow the officer's instructions.

Standardized and Non-Standardized Testing

An officer can resort to a number of tests when they are seeking to determine if a suspect is in fact driving while intoxicated. Since it can be challenging to correctly determine who is hindered from the alcohol in their system and who is merely exhibiting some of the traits based on other factors such as stress, field sobriety tests can be used to further break down the pieces of the puzzle and find an answer. There are different types of tests that an officer can choose to use either alone or together.

The one-leg-stand test involves the suspect attempting to balance on one leg for a period of time. A Walk-and-Turn test assesses the ability of the individual to balance and carry out instruction by walking on a straight line, heel to toe and reversing and returning in the same manner. The HGN test (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) evaluates the reaction of an individual's eye when following a pen or other object.

Suspects can also be asked to count the fingers an officer holds up, to put their fingers to their nose, to stand stationary while tipping back their head and more. Officers can also use breath tests or blood tests to further explore the level of alcohol in a person's system. Retain a Las Vegas DUI lawyer if you are facing charges after failing a field sobriety test.

Challenging Your Test Results

Field sobriety tests are not entirely accurate in determining intoxication or a driver who is under the influence of any controlled substance. Age, weight, physical injuries, illness, or even nervousness may all affect the outcome of a field sobriety test, and these tests are also subject to the officer's subjective viewpoint about the motorist's performance.

Officers will typically not tell you that field sobriety tests are optional, however, in the state of Nevada, there is the legal right to decline to adhere to them prior to being arrested. This can be useful to not give law enforcement additional evidence to use against you. Accusations can be disputed, contrary to the belief of many that they are at a loss if pulled over by officers.

To learn more, please talk to a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer from my office.

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