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An overview of field sobriety tests in Arizona

Like numerous others throughout Arizona, you may have been stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence. At The Baker Law Firm, LLC, we know such stops often involve field sobriety tests. While such tests often play an important role in determining whether you will be arrested for drunk driving, you may not understand what they entail. Therefore, we will provide an overview of field sobriety tests in this post.

According to the AAA DUI Justice Link, the standard field sobriety test includes three tests – the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Law enforcement officers will use sobriety tests to help them decide if you might be impaired and they should investigate further.

For the one-leg stand, the authorities will request that you stand on one leg while keeping the other foot about six inches off of the ground. You must balance like this for about 30 seconds. If you use your arms to balance, sway, put your foot down or hop, law enforcement officers may view this as a sign you are intoxicated.

When performing the walk-and-turn test, you are asked to take about 9 steps along a straight line. The authorities will instruct you to walk heel-to-toe, turn on one foot and walk back the same way. This is not necessarily difficult, but it requires you to complete tasks with divided attention. The law enforcement officers may take it as evidence of impairment if you are not able to perform this test or do not follow the directions.

When you gaze to the side, your eye involuntarily jerks. The jerking may be exaggerated if you are impaired by alcohol. The horizontal gaze nystagmus tests this movement. Law enforcement officers will check to see if you are able to smoothly follow a moving object, will look for jerking within 45 degrees of your eye’s center and check if there is distinct jerking when your eye is at its maximum deviation.

For more information about the tests performed at DUI traffic stops, please visit our field sobriety tests page.

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