The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sponsored research by the Southern California Research Institute to develop a battery of tests for law enforcement to use for determining whether a driver is impaired. Law enforcement training is provided through the NHTSA. These tests together are known as the Utah Standardized Field Sobriety Test.
The three tests for the Utah Field Sobriety Test are the One-Leg Stand, the Walk-and-Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
In the One-Leg Stand test:
The driver must stand with one of his or her feet about six inches up off the ground. He or she must count aloud for 30 seconds. The officer is looking for indicators of impairment, such as hopping to keep his or her balance, swaying, using his or her arms to balance and putting his or her foot down.
In the Walk-and-Turn test:
The person suspected of being impaired must take nine steps forward in a straight line, heel-to-toe. Then he or she must pivot on one foot and walk back using the same steps. An officer is looking for signs of impairment in eight indicators, some of which include stopping while walking in order to keep his or her balance, not taking the right number of steps or starting the test before the officer has finished the instructions.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test:
Will check to see if the driver is able to track a moving object smoothly. Nystagmous is a jerking of the eye that can’t be controlled. It is more pronounced when a person is impaired. Some of the indicators an officer is looking for include if the jerking occurs before 45 degree of center and if the jerking is very distinct when the person is looking as far left or right as possible.
According to a 1998 study, the Utah Field Sobriety Test are, overall, accurate 91 percent of the time. However, this does not mean that law enforcement does not make mistakes. An attorney with experience in DUI cases can provide more information on how such mistakes could affect a DUI case.
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