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A Breakdown of Standard DUI & DWI Field Sobriety Tests


Throughout the United States, police officers have the right to request a driver to undergo a field sobriety test if they are suspected of driving while intoxicated. Field sobriety tests are designed to help a police officer determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol and drugs. These tests involve a number of physical tests as standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to one of Boston's top DUI lawyers, Attorney John B. Seed, a standard field sobriety test consists of tasks such as:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This test involves following a moving pen or flashlight with one's eyes. The officer will watch a person's eyes to see if their eyes tremble or jerk while tracking the object. (This test is usually not used a trial by the government because an expert witness is necessary.)
  • Walk & Turn: The individual undergoing the test must walk 9 steps out and 9 steps back on a straight line heel-to-toe while counting out loud. This tests the brain's ability to multitask, which is often compromised when intoxicated.
  • One-Leg Stand: Another test of the brain's multitasking abilities, the one-leg stand consists of standing with one foot 6 inches off the ground and counting out loud for about 30 seconds.

Individuals in MA have to right to refuse any and all field sobriety tests, and this refusal cannot be used against them in court. This is highly important because it significantly weakens the government's case at trial. However, most individuals do not realize they can refuse these tests until after they have already been arrested for OUI. In many cases, these tests can be attacked on a number of levels.

Attorney John B. Seed will craft a case about how the field sobriety tests were administered, and the validity of the tests used. Many times, field sobriety tests are not correctly followed by the officer, and the case can be successfully won on these grounds. If you have been charged with DUI/DWI/OUI and need legal counsel, callAttorney John B. Seed for a free drunk driving defense consultation at (857) 251-5482.

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