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If law enforcement stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the officer will likely ask you to take the standardized field sobriety tests.

What tasks would you have to perform? Would you be able to pass the field sobriety tests?

A little background

In the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began research to determine which were the best field tests for recognizing intoxicated drivers. In the 1980s, law enforcement officers began using standard field sobriety tests for drivers who appeared to be impaired because of alcohol or drugs.

The one-leg stand

This is a test that determines balance. An officer would instruct you to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count aloud starting with 1000.

The walk-and-turn test

In this test, the officer would have you take nine steps heel to toe, then turn on one foot and repeat as you return to the starting point. This is another indicator of your ability to maintain balance and follow instructions.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test

The HGN test involves your ability to see and track an object that is moving from side to side. An officer might ask you to follow his or her hands or a small flashlight.

Reasons for failing

Field sobriety testing occurs at the side of the road. There may be many distractions such as uneven ground, the noise of passing traffic or the flashing lights on a patrol car that may affect your ability to pass one if not all of the tests. If the police arrest you on suspicion of DUI, your defense may include questions about the validity of the tests, and the answers might affect the admissibility of the test results.