Drunk Driving Defense, DUI Arrest - FAQs

5. If a police officer asks me to take a field sobriety test, what should I do?

The police officer has several test options available. The most common are:

  • Finger-to-nose
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
  • Heel-to-toe walk
  • Reciting of the alphabet
  • Hand pat
  • Fingers-to-thumb
  • One-leg-stand
  • Modified position of attention (the Rhomberg test)

The officer has most likely already made his judgment and decision of arrest before requesting a field sobriety test. When the suspect fails it is only validation for the officer and serves as additional evidence. Unlike the chemical tests, refusing to take a FST should not have any legal penalties. Politely declining the FST could be a valid option for the suspect to take.

Studies funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have concluded that only three of these test are reliable in determining if a driver is intoxicated: Heel-to-toe, one-leg-stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. These three tests use numerical scores which are specific to the suspect's actions. The study also concluded that the other FSTs are unreliable and should be discouraged from being used.

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