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Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

If you have had a little too much to drink before getting behind the wheel of your automobile, then you run the risk of driving negligently and being pulled over by a police officer. When this happens, you will likely be administered several field sobriety tests. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are a set of three physically and cognitively interactive examinations that a law enforcement officer may give to a suspected intoxicated driver.

The Three SFSTs

There are three federally established standardized field sobriety tests that police officers will administer to suspected drunk drivers. These include the following:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): When the eyes rotate around at high peripheral angles, they involuntarily begin to jerk (a phenomenon known as horizontal gaze nystagmus). If a person is intoxicated, their eyes begin jerking at much lower angles, and they are unable to track slowly moving objects. During this test, the officer asks the driver to follow light from a small flashlight and checks the eyes for signs of intoxication.
  • Walk and Turn: The driver is asked to take nine steps along a straight line. He or she must walk heel-to-toe the entire way, then turn on one foot and walk in the same manner back to the starting point. The officer checks for signs of intoxication, such as inability to maintain balance, stepping off the line, not fully following instructions, or inability to walk and turn in the defined manner.
  • One Leg Stand: For 30 seconds, the driver must stand on one foot and count up, beginning at one-thousand. The officer checks for signs of intoxication, such as swaying, inability to balance, improper counting, or hopping.

Statistics show that when all three tests are administered to a suspected drunk driver, officers are able to correctly tell if a person is intoxicated in about 91% of all cases.

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If you would like to learn more about standardized field sobriety tests and your rights when a cop pulls you over, then contact a Seattle DUI lawyer of the Cowan Kirk Law Firm today at 1-866-822-1230.

Cowan Kirk Kattenhorn

Cowan Kirk is known throughout Washington and the nation for representing all of its clients with commitment, creativity and compassion. We recognize how devastating a DUI charge can be, particularly when our clients learn how incredibly tough Washington's DUI laws have become, even for a first-time offender.

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If you need a DUI defense attorney in Seattle, Bellevue, or King County, contact us today to find out why respect for our clients, a passion for justice, and our commitment to winning have earned each of us the highest honor a member of the bar can receive from our colleagues – their referrals.