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.