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What is a field sobriety test?

A traffic stop can be a stressful experience for a Missouri driver. After communicating with a law enforcement officer and answering questions about their actions and activities, they may be asked to step out of their vehicle if they are suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol. If drunk driving is suspected by the involved police officer, the driver may be subjected to certain testing.

Field sobriety tests are a set of assessments that challenge individuals' coordination, balance and focus. Law enforcement officers should be trained on how to administer these tests and how to assess them if they use them to determine if drivers are intoxicated. There are three tests that are commonly used after traffic stops. This includes the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk and turn.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus requires a person to look at a moving point that is controlled by a law enforcement official. If the person's eyes jerk or experience nystagmus then that may be considered as evidence of their apparent intoxication. Law enforcement officers use more than one test to collect evidence of alleged intoxication in drivers.

The one-leg stand and walk and turn are basic coordination tests that challenge drivers to hold their balance without tipping or falling. It is important for individuals to realize, though, that a driver's inability to successfully complete a field sobriety test does not necessarily mean that they have been driving while drunk.

Medical conditions, surface conditions, and a host of other problems can cause drivers to fail field sobriety tests and may give law enforcement officials bad information regarding the status of their sobriety when they were driving. It is important to consider this when developing a defense against a DWI. This could help one reduce or avoid penalties that can be rather harsh.

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