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What to know about the field sobriety test

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2020 | DUI Defense

There is no way around it; alcohol is part of being a college student. You will invariably be around others who are drinking at one point or another on your college journey, whether or not you partake in it. While this can be a safe, enjoyable practice, it can take a sharp turn for the worse in short order. 

A DUI can instantly derail a promising young career. However, there are certain aspects of the process that you should be aware of. Here are some important bits of information about a proper field sobriety test. 

A three-part test 

A standard field sobriety test has three parts: the HGN, the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand. The HGN test involves the officer tracking the eyes of the driver as they move horizontally. A person impaired by alcohol will have quicker, more sudden eye movement as he or she tries to track a slow-moving object, such as the officer’s pen. 

During the walk-and-turn, an officer will instruct the driver to walk for nine steps in a straight line, heel to toe. There are several factors that indicate impairment, including loss of balance, swerving, using the arms to regain or maintain balance, and failing to follow exact directions. 

The one-leg stand involves the driver holding one foot about six inches off the ground. He or she will then count, at a steady pace, to 30. The officer is again looking for any swaying or loss of balance, as well as the driver putting the foot down before the officer says to do so. 


Every state has slightly different laws when it comes to DUIs. In Pennsylvania, as an example, you may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your vehicle. This contraption does not allow you to start the car until you blow into the mouthpiece, thus indicating that you have not been consuming alcohol. 

You may be looking at serious penalties if you fail a field sobriety test. Luckily, several aspects of the procedure are subjective, and a good defense strategy may result in a judge dismissing this “evidence.”