Field Sobriety Tests

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Field Sobriety Attorney Decatur, IL

Defense for FSTs

When someone is pulled over in a routine traffic stop and when the police officer suspects the possibility of drunk driving, then the officer will typically ask the suspect to perform a series of field sobriety tests. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a battery of three tests which are administered by law enforcement to validate indicators of impairment and to establish probable cause to make a DUI arrest.

These tests were developed as a result of research that was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Since these tests were created, a formal training program has been developed to help law enforcement officers nationwide become more skillful at detecting DUI suspects, and presenting their testimony in court.

The three tests include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
  • Walk-and-Turn
  • One-Leg Stand

HGN Test

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes that occurs naturally as the eyes look to the side. An alcohol impaired person will have difficulty tracking an object, therefore resulting in an exaggerated jerking of the eyes. With the HGN test, the officer instructs the suspect to follow a pen or a small flashlight with their eyes while looking for a distinct jerking of the eyes that occurs when someone is impaired by alcohol.

Walk and Turn

The Walk-and-Turn test is a "divided attention" test that requires that the suspect listen and follow directions while performing simple physical movements. An impaired person supposedly has difficulty performing tasks that require that their attention be divided between simple mental and physical exercises. With this test, the suspect takes nine steps heel-to-toe along a straight line. After doing so, the suspect turns on one foot and returns in the same manner back in the opposite direction.


With the One-Leg-Stand, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count by the thousands (one thousand-one, one thousand-two etc.) until they are told to put their foot down. During this time the officer times the subject for a period of 30 seconds while the officer is looking for signs of impairment such as swaying, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance etc.

Challenging Field Sobriety Tests

If you were arrested for DUI, you more than likely were asked to perform the standardized field sobriety tests mentioned above. While you cannot refuse to submit to a chemical without suffering consequences, you are not legally required to submit to the field sobriety tests, which are subjective by nature and not based on physical evidence. If you are ever asked to perform field sobriety tests, we recommend that you politely refuse, especially since any evidence from these tests can be recorded on the police officer's dash cam and used against you in court.

To discuss your DUI charges with a competent and aggressive Decatur, IL DUI lawyer, contact the Johnson Law Group at (217) 727-7047 to schedule a free consultation.

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