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Field sobriety tests factor into arrests

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Being accused of committing a crime can be a scary experience. It is often easy to overlook important details that might influence the outcome of one’s case, including factors during an arrest. For example, Kentucky police officers often administer field sobriety tests prior to making a drunk driving arrest, but these tests can be highly subjective.

What is a field sobriety test?

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration endorses the Standardized Field Sobriety Test — SFST. The SFST consists of three individual challenges that officers use to decide whether they need to pursue further action, such as administering a Breathalyzer test or conducting an arrest. These three challenges are the:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Walk and turn
  • One leg stand

The challenges measure different indicators of potential intoxication. During the horizontal gaze nystagmus, an officer observes the natural jerking movement of the eyes and decides whether that movement is exaggerated. The walk and turn test measures a driver’s ability to complete different tasks with divided attention. Finally, the one leg stand measures whether a driver can balance on one foot without swaying or putting the other foot down.

The results of field sobriety tests are often used as justification for arrests. However, it is important to remember that police officers are only human, and their perception of how well drivers perform on these tests can be flawed. Examining one’s performance on a field sobriety test can be a key component for some defendants in Kentucky as they create their criminal defense strategies.