Three Common Field Sobriety Tests

Posted on April 17, 2014

Common Field Sobriety Test

When you are pulled over by the police on suspicion of DUI, the officer will likely administer some form of a field sobriety test on you. The exact test the officer uses can vary greatly; some tests are used frequently while others are less common. It may help you to understand the different kinds of tests that may be administered and how accurate they are. Your Redwood City DUI defense lawyer will want to know the details of the test that you were asked to perform and whether you were able to perform it.

Standard Tests

Some field sobriety tests have been “standardized” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These include the “walk and turn” test, the “one-leg stand” test, and the horizontal nystagmus, or oscillation of the eyes, test. However, other tests you might be asked to perform are not standardized. These include the “finger to nose” test and the “alphabet” or “countdown” tests.

Finger to Nose

The “finger to nose” test usually works by asking the subject to touch the tip of their nose with their finger on each hand alternating with their eyes closed. While this is commonly used by highway officers, a research project by the NHTSA indicated that the test is useful for detecting the presence of alcohol, but does not increase the “predictive ability of testing.”

Alphabet or Countdown

Your Redwood City DUI law office might advise you regarding the alphabet or countdown tests. The alphabet test has the subject recite the alphabet forward, not backward, contrary to popular myth, starting at a letter other than A. The countdown test asks the subject to count numbers backward out loud starting from a large number.

Some officers will make the test more difficult by having the subject stand heel to toe with each foot in single file when performing one of these tests. These tests are not standardized, so their accuracy in detecting intoxication has not been fully established.

If you have more questions about how field sobriety tests will affect your defense, talk to a Redwood City DUI defense lawyer. For more information, call Silveira Law at (415) 795-3890.