If the driver was driving on the centerline, ran a red light or violated traffic laws, for example, then the police may be under the suspicion that a driver is drunk and they’ll very likely perform a traffic stop. During this traffic stop, the police will ask a few simple questions regarding the driver’s state of mind and alcohol consumption. The driver has the right to refuse any questions, but they may still be asked to perform a sobriety test.
Typically, officers will use a breath test, a handheld box that tests a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the driver’s BAC levels are above the legal limit, then they may be charged with a DUI. However, police may ask the driver to do a field sobriety test.
A field sobriety test is a physical evaluation that allows police to determine if a driver is drunk. There are four kinds of field sobriety tests you should expect during a traffic stop:
1. Walk-and-turn test
During a walk-and-turn test, the driver will be asked to walk on a straight line. The officer will then ask the driver to halt and walk back to where they started. If the driver fumbles or struggles to stay straight, then the police may suspect them of drunk driving.
2. One-legged stand test
The one-legged stand test is a fairly simple and self-explanatory test, the driver must stand on one leg. If they fall over or struggle to put one leg up, then they may be showing signs of inebriation.
3. Horizontal gaze test
The police may also ask the driver to do a horizontal gaze test. This test involves having the driver focus on a finger or light and follow it with their eyes. If their eyes begin to wander, then the officer may believe the driver is drunk
4. Non-standard field sobriety tests
The above tests are standard procedures that any officer of the law should know. However, the police may ask the driver to do other tests, such as counting multiples of four or saying the alphabet backward, which are considered non-standard field sobriety tests.
You should be aware of your legal rights during a traffic stop. For example, you aren’t required by law to perform a field sobriety test.