Drivers in Massachusetts know that driving after the consumption of alcohol is not a good idea. However, you may have had just a couple glasses of wine at dinner and you assume you are under the legal limit, or perhaps you had a lot to drink and made a bad judgment call. If you are pulled over for suspicion, you can expect to be asked if you have been drinking. If you say yes, or if the officer thinks you have been, you will be asked to perform three different field sobriety tests.
According to FindLaw, these tests test the driver's physical ability to perform certain tasks, balance and level of attention. These tests have been shown to determine impairment in over 90% of those tested, and they are hard to fight in court.
The American Automobile Association discusses the three tests and what each is looking for. They are the following:
- Walk and turn: the driver is asked to walk heel to toe for nine steps along a straight line, turn around and then return in the same manner. Eight different factors are being tested including balance, attention to detail and task completion.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: the suspect is asked to follow a small moving object in a horizontal motion. The officer is looking for increased eyeball jerking or the inability to follow the object
- One-leg stand: the driver stands on one foot and counts for 30 seconds in one-second intervals starting at 1,000. The officer observes the ability to keep balance while counting.
If the suspect fails one or more of the tests a breathalyzer test may be given. If it is above the legal limit, the suspect will be arrested for a DUI.