Coates & Davenport, P.C.

What are field sobriety tests?

Different tests and assessments may be used to determine if a driver is driving while under the influence of alcohol. While many Virginia residents may be familiar with blood and breath tests, they may not know as much about field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are assessments that law enforcement officers use when they make traffic stops and suspect that drivers may have been drinking.

Field sobriety tests are intended to assess different physical performance indicators, such as balance and coordination. For example, one common field sobriety test is the one leg stand. During this test, drivers are asked to lift one foot off the ground and hold their balance without falling as they are observed by law enforcement officers.

Other tests, like the walk and turn test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, also provide law enforcement officers with possible indications that a driver has been drinking. The problem with these tests, however, is that they do not take into account other factors that may prevent drivers from successfully completing them.

Drivers who suffer from certain medical conditions, those who are on certain medications, and even those who are asked to perform their tests on unfavorable or unstable surfaces could fail their assessments even without any alcohol in their bodies. Because these tests may be flawed in their execution and assessment, it is important that drivers understand that their results may be challenged. Criminal defense attorneys can provide drivers facing drunk driving charges with the support they need to take on their cases.

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Coates & Davenport, P.C.
5206 Markel Road Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23230

Phone: 804-729-5537
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