What are Field Sobriety Tests?

There are three tests approved for use by law enforcement officers as field sobriety tests during a drunk driving investigation.

Drivers in North Carolina should be educated about the state's laws on Driving While Impaired and also about what might happen to them if they are suspected of driving under the influence. Before an officer might arrest a driver and charge them with a drunk driving offense, the officer may administer what are called field sobriety tests.

As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, this battery of tests is meant to give officers the support they need to place a person under arrest. They do not necessarily prove that a person is intoxicated nor can they prove any particular level of impairment. However, the failure of these tests may well result in a driver being arrested.

Such was the case for a 23-year-old man from Aiken who according to the Aiken Standard did not turn properly nor maintain his balance during these tests. He was therefore arrested but it is not known what his blood alcohol content might have been after a chemical test.

Another man was arrested in Hickory after he supposedly failed two field sobriety tests according to the Fayetteville Observer. Reports did not indicate which tests he is said to have failed.

The walk-and-turn test

This test requires a person to take nine paces along a line in one direction and back again. Starting too early and not maintaining the balance during instruction are some of the clues. Feet must maintain a heel-to-toe positioning at all times and arms must remain by the driver's sides. Turning in a way that does not follow instructions, stopping or losing any balance even for a moment might contribute to a failed result. This test has an accuracy rate of 66 percent.

The one-leg stand test

In this test a person must balance perfectly on one leg again and keeping arms firmly affixed to one's sides. Putting down the lifted leg, swaying, using the arms to balance or hopping may contribute to a failed result. This test has an accuracy rate of 65 percent.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test

The nystagmus is a natural jerking motion of the eye and this test measures when and at what angle the jerking may begin. If impaired a person's eye jerk may be more pronounced or occur at an earlier onset than if not impaired. This test's accuracy rate is 77 percent.

Inaccurate tests require proper help

Even in spite of some scientific research that favors the tests, there are clearly issues with them. North Carolina drivers who have supposedly failed fie ld sobriety tests should contact an attorney to learn more about how to defend against a drunk driving charge.