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What are the three standard field sobriety tests?

When a motorist in Ohio is pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she may be asked to perform a field sobriety test. Unfortunately, these tests can be difficult to pass, even if a driver is sober, much less when he or she is under the stress of being pulled over. It is important to know what to expect.

There are three government-standardized field sobriety tests: the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. In the one-leg stand, the motorist will stand with one foot around six inches in the air, and will then count for half a minute. If the motorist sways, hops or has trouble balancing, he or she will not pass.

In the walk and turn, the police will ask the motorist to walk heel-to-toe for nine steps, turn and go back the same way. This tests a motorist's ability to pay attention to more than one thing at a time.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus involves the involuntary movement of the eyes when looking to the side. This takes place naturally, but the movement will be exaggerated if a person is drunk. The motorist will be asked to keep their eye on an object, such as a pen or a finger, which is moving. If the motorist's eyes jerk a certain way or if he or she cannot smoothly track the object, he or she will have failed this test.

If police ask a motorist to perform all three tests, and the motorist fails, the motorist may then be given a breath test. Depending on the results, the motorist may be arrested for drunk driving. However, if a motorist believes he or she was not intoxicated when arrested or if he or she wants to challenge the accuracy of the field sobriety tests, he or she may want to consult with an attorney.

Source:, "Field Sobriety Tests," accessed on Aug. 13, 2017

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