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Field Sobriety Tests

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Oakland Dui Lawyers

When an officer suspects that you are driving impaired, he or she will administer a field sobriety test to gauge whether you are too intoxicated to drive. There are only three types of field sobriety tests that are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of their scientific correlation to DUI impairment. These standardized field sobriety tests must be followed precisely, or their results may be considered inaccurate.

At the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, our Oakland DUI defense lawyer knows that errors occur frequently during field sobriety testing. Officers often stray from the correct protocol and mistakenly arrest innocent men and women for DUI. With over a decade of experience, we know what questions to ask to determine the accuracy of the field sobriety tests.

Types of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The NHTSA has officially approved three standardized field sobriety tests.

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test—during this test, the officer instructs the suspect to follow an object with his or her eyes both to the left and right. During this time, the officer is supposed to note the angle at which the pupil starts involuntarily jerking. If the eye begins to jerk before a 45-degree angle, then a high blood alcohol concentration is suspected. This movement is involuntary; therefore, the suspect does not realize that he or she is failing the test. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is only 77% accurate.
  • Walk and Turn Test—during this test, the officer instructs the DUI suspect to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a line, turn around, and take nine steps back. During this walk, the officer watches for eight specific clues that show that the suspect may indeed be impaired. If you use your arms to balance, cannot keep your balance, or take the incorrect number of steps, then the officer may decide that you fail the test. The walk and turn test are only 68% accurate.
  • One Leg Stand Test—during this test, the officer will instruct the DUI suspect to raise his or her foot, hold that position, count from 1001 – 1030, and look down at his or her foot. During this time, the officer watches to see if the suspect sways, puts his or her foot down, or uses arms to balance. This test is only 65% accurate.

There are a variety of non-standardized field sobriety tests that a police officer can ask you to perform to help them determine if you are driving impaired. Some of these include the finger-to-nose sobriety test, the Rhomberg balance field test, and the hand pat field sobriety test.

Yet because these non-standardized tests are not specifically approved, their legitimacy and accuracy can be questioned more aggressively.

Contact Us if You are Charged with Drunk Driving

We proudly help clients in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Concord, and the surrounding areas who have failed sobriety tests. Call our team at the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed today to set up areview of your case at (510) 907-6600.


If you are already detained, we are available for phone consultations. You can also fill out a confidential contact form.


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