Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests in Pennsylvania

Team Up With a Scranton DUI Attorney

Field Sobriety Test

When law enforcement suspects that a person is driving under the influence they often conduct field sobriety tests. These tests are meant to help determine a driver's impairment level. If you are suspected of driving under the influence, you may be asked to perform these roadside field sobriety tests. This is a series of tests to challenge your coordination as well as your ability to think cognitively. If you perform inadequately, this could serve as probable cause for an arrest. In this case, you may then be asked to perform a chemical test in order to determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Have you been arrested for a DUI after your performance on field sobriety tests? Rogan Law can help you build a strong defense and fight against the results.

Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved three standard field sobriety tests to be used. Pennsylvania uses these tests when attempting to determine the impairment level of drivers. The tests include:

One- Leg Stand Test

The instructions for this test involves standing while holding one foot about six inches above the ground while keeping your leg straight. While doing this, you are also instructed to count (one thousand and one, one thousand and two, etc…) until you reach about 30 seconds and the officer instructs you to lower your foot. The point of this test is to challenge your mental and physical abilities at the same time. During your performance, the officer will be looking for signs of impairment such as using arms for balance, placing your foot on the ground, etc. This test is not completely reliable; however, and there are defenses that you can make. If you are wearing inadequate shoes for the task, if the ground was uneven or if there was loose gravel, the results may be invalid.

Walk and Turn Test

This test involves walking on a straight line, either imaginary or visible, for nine steps. The steps need to be heel-to-toe and then you will make a pivot turn and take nine steps back to the beginning. This is another way to test a suspect's ability to divide their attention between physical and mental tasks. While you are performing the test, the officer will look for signs of imbalance and impairment including:

  • Using arms for balance
  • Walking off the line
  • Not walking heel-to-toe
  • Taking more than nine steps

The walk and turn test is also not completely reliable. There are outside factors that can affect your performance and ability to walk on a line. If you have any type of injury or disability, you could fight against the probable cause. Also, if you are in improper shoes, on uneven ground or do not have a painted line, the chances of success on the test are tainted.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

This test is meant to measure the jerking fashion of a suspect's eyes. If it is irregular, the suspect is thought to be intoxicated. Nystagmus is the term for the involuntary jerking of the eye and while the officer moves a stimulus, they will be watching the activity of the eyes as the suspects follows the stimulus. If jerking occurs before 45 degrees that is supposed to be a sign of impairment. As with all the other tests, this is also not always reliable. There are other factors that can affect the jerking of the eye other than intoxication.

Rogan Law Can Help in Your DUI Case!

Need a lawyer for a DUI case in Scranton, PA? Seek help from an experienced DUI lawyer who has defended against the results of field sobriety tests in the past. Our firm has more than two decades of experience assisting clients in their criminal and DUI cases. Contact Rogan Law today to team up with one of our Scranton criminal defense lawyers.