Understanding Standard Field Sobriety Tests
By Zachary Mushkatel on December 18, 2013
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) includes three separate tests. They are typically administered after a person has been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The purpose of the tests is to reveal clues that a police officer can use to determine whether the driver of the vehicle is in fact intoxicated.
The tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Southern California Research Institute. The three separate tests that make up the SFST are:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. This measures nystagmus, an involuntary movement of the eye that is exaggerated under the influence of alcohol. During the test, the officer slowly moves an object like a pen or flashlight, which the test subject must follow with his or her eyes.
- The Walk and Turn (WAT) test. This creates “divided attention” by asking the subject to listen to and follow directions while taking nine steps, heel to toe, along a straight line. Then the subject is asked to turn and walk back the same way. The officer looks for indicators like losing balance, using arms to balance, stepping off the line, or failing to walk heel-to-toe.
- The One-Leg Stand (OLS) test. In this test, the officer instructs the test subject to stand with one foot raised about six inches off the ground. The subject may also be asked to do another task, like counting aloud, while standing on one foot. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds while looking for indicators that the suspect is intoxicated.
At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, our experienced Surprise, Scottsdale, Sun City, Peoria, and Glendale, Arizona DUI defense attorneys strive to provide outstanding representation to every client we defend. To learn more, contact us today at (623) 889-0691 for a free and confidential case evaluation.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.