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Field Sobriety Tests in Virginia

Need a lawyer for a DUI case in Virginia Beach?

In order to make a roadside determination about the intoxication of a driver, field sobriety tests are used. The ones that many hear about and think of when picturing these tests are the finger-to-nose test or citing the alphabet backwards, but these tests are not used in most jurisdictions. There are three standardized tests through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even though these are standardized, there is significant room for error when it comes to the subjectivity of the arresting officer. Team up with a criminal lawyer in Virginia Beach if you have been arrested for a DUI after your performance on field sobriety tests.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The key tests to be aware of are the ones standardized through the NHTSA. The first is the One Leg Stand, this test requires the suspect to stand on one leg and the officer will judge based on their ability to balance and count out-loud. The second test is the Walk and Turn test, this requires the suspect to follow a straight line and walk nine steps, heel- to- toe, then make a pivot turn and walk nine steps back. During the test, the officer will look for signs of losing balance, walking off the line or a failure to follow instructions. Both of these tests are used to judge the suspect's ability to split their focus between a mental and physical task at the same time. There are strict instructions and both require the suspect to speak out loud, counting either seconds or steps while focusing on balance and their performance on the test.

The last test is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test which looks into the involuntary jerking of the eye, also known as Nystagmus. When intoxicated, the jerking is different than if sober and the officer will conduct a test where the subject follows a stimulus with their eyes and they observe the Nystagmus. If you are facing DUI charges in Virginia Beach, contact Thoman Law, PLLC.

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