Roberts Law Group, PLLC
North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys

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What are the three standard field sobriety tests?

If you're pulled over in North Carolina, a breath test can tell police if you are under the influence or not. However, before using one, the police may turn to standard field sobriety tests. There are three main ones, which are as follows:

The Walk-and-Turn (WAT)

This is the most commonly known test, and it just requires you to walk a set distance, turn, and then walk the same path back. Often, a straight line will be used and you'll be asked to follow it. This tests your ability to stay on the line and to remember and follow directions.

The One-Leg Stand (OLS)

This is essentially a balance test. You'll have to pick one foot up by at least six inches and balance on the other one. The officer may have you count for 30 seconds while doing so, and he or she will watch to see how well you can balance, how much you sway back and forth, and whether or not you need assistance -- by holding out your arms, for example.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

This is an eye tracking test, in which the officer holds up a finger and moves it in front of your face. You have to follow the finger with your eye. Multiple passes will be used, and the officer may move his or her hand up and down, as well as side to side.

After you take these tests, if you're then arrested on suspicion of being under the influence, it's important to know if the tests were conducted properly and what legal defense options you have.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Standardized Field Sobriety Testing," accessed Sep. 18, 2015


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