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A Field Sobriety Test is conducted by a law enforcement official to determine the possibility of whether or not a driver is intoxicated; the results of that roadside testing is often used as a legal justification by the police to administer further blood or breath tests. If a Maricopa County officer suspects you of driving under the influence, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test. Many people in Phoenix do not realize that performing a field sobriety test is voluntary and you are not required by Arizona law to take the test. If you do happen to take a field sobriety test, it is important to know that the results can be used against you as evidence for DUI.   Arizona drivers also need to be aware that their refusal to submit to a field sobriety test can be used against them at trial if later charged for DUI.

Although there are many different tests used by the police, only three of them have been certified by the National Highway Safety Administration and are thought to hold any merit when determining a person’s sobriety:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN) – Also known as the “eye test,” this field sobriety test most often involves an officer moving a pen or another object in a number of ways while the DUI suspect watches it with their eyes. During this test, the officer is looking for something called Nystagmus, meaning the jerking or bouncing of the eye as it moves, indicating a neurological impairment that occurs when alcohol is in the system.
  • Walk & Turn Test – During this field sobriety test the subject is asked to walk nine steps touching heel to toe in a straight line. The officer will score this test by taking off points for things the subject does wrong, such as stepping off the line, failing to touch your toe to your heel, taking the wrong number of steps, using your arms for balance, or stopping to balance yourself.
  • One Leg Stand – When this field sobriety test is administered, the subject is told to stand on one foot, raising their other foot about 6 inches off the ground while counting to 30. Like the walk and turn test, certain actions will be noted against your score such as hopping or bouncing for balance, swaying, putting your foot down, looking at your foot, or using your arms to balance.

These tests can be difficult for an individual to perform when he or she is inebriated. However, it is also important to be aware that a One Leg Stand test or Walk & Turn test can also be difficult for an individual who is extremely nervous, upset or shaken due to being pulled over by a law enforcement agent. In your attempt to prove your sobriety, you may actually appear that you are under the influence of alcohol.

As an experienced Scottsdale DUI attorney, Ryan M. Garvey realizes how subjective field sobriety tests can be and knows how to challenge their results in court. If stopped for DUI in Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa or Tempe, he highly recommends that you refuse to take a field sobriety test, but even if you do there are ways he can combat the results. As your DUI Attorney, he will explain and demonstrate how inaccurate field sobriety tests can be so the jury or judge might not use this as evidence when considering your DUI case.