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field sobriety tests

the tests before arrests

The Different Types Of Field Sobriety Tests

If an individual is driving a motorized vehicle and is pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, the individual will be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. These tests can give the police officer probable cause if the tests are failed.

There are two types of tests, standardized and non-standardized.

Standardized Tests

There are three standardized tests:

  1. The one-leg stand
  2. The walk and turn
  3. The horizontal gaze nystagmus

The One-leg Stand Test

During a one-leg stand test, a police officer will ask the individual to stand on one foot and lift the other foot about six inches off the ground. This individual is then asked to count aloud until the police officer asks he/she to stop.

The Walk and Turn Test

During a walk and turn test, an individual would be asked by the police officer to walk heel-to-toe along a line for nine steps. This individual is then asked to turn around and return the same way. Most people will be able to complete this test without difficulty if they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In order to pass this sobriety test an individual must show they understand the directions and physically manage the test.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

During a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, an individual is asked to follow a light with their eyes. A police officer will hold a penlight about one foot in front of the individual’s eyes and will move the penlight from one side to the other. The reason for this is so the police officer can estimate the angle at which the individual’s eye twitches. If the eye twitches less than 45 degrees, it is a sign that the individual has an illegal BAC limit.

Non-standardized Tests

There are a few more tests that an officer may also give:

  1. The Rhomburg Stationary Balance Test
  2. The finger count test
  3. The finger to nose test
  4. The ABC test
  5. The hand pat test
  6. The numbers backwards test

The Rhomburg Stationary Balance Test

In this test, the police officer will ask an individual to stand up straight, feet together, and to lean their head back to look up at the sky, while holding their arms out straight to the sides. An individual will fail this test if they lose their balance.

The Finger Count Test

During a finger count test, a police officer will ask an individual to count the number of fingers the police officer is holding up. An individual will fail this test if they count the wrong number of fingers, caused by the individual's vision being impaired, because of alcohol or drugs.

The Finger to Nose Test

During a finger to nose test, the police officer will ask an individual to stand up straight and position their arms straight out to the sides, then they are asked to close their eyes and touch their finger to their nose. If a person cannot touch their nose, they will fail this test.

The ABC Test

During an ABC test, a police officer will ask an individual to recite their ABC’s. If the individual can not recite the ABC's correctly, they will fail this test.

The Hand Pat Test

During a hand pat test, a police officer will ask an individual to extend their hand, palms up, in front of them. The individual is then asked to place their opposite hand, palm down, on top of the other hand. The police officer then asks them to rotate back and forth, so that the upper hand lands on the lower hand with the back side of the same hand. If they can not accomplish this task, they fail the test.

The Numbers Backwards Test

In a numbers backwards test, a police officer will ask an individual to count backwards from a number the police officer chooses. If they can not complete this task, they will fail the test.

Des Moines, Iowa
Des moines, Iowa

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