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Field Sobriety Tests in Tennessee

Counsel from Nashville DUI Attorneys

Have you ever been arrested or stopped by a police officer on the suspicion of drunk driving? If so, you were probably subjected to field sobriety tests. You may be wondering if these tests are really legal, whether they were conducted correctly, or what officers are even looking for when testing individuals.

At Andrew C. Beasley, PLLC, my entire team has been providing reliable and trustworthy representation to clients for numerous years. As a former prosecutor, I understand what officers and the other side of the courtroom are looking for when arresting and attempting to convict individuals of DUI. I believe it is my responsibility to provide strong and aggressive advocacy to those who have been arrested for drunk driving and go above and beyond to ensure their side of the story is heard in court. I am available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions and provide the insight you need to resolve your legal concerns.

Have questions about field sobriety tests? Need counsel? Fill out a case evaluation!

Understanding the Types of Field Sobriety Tests

When a police officer pulls an individual over they believe is intoxicated or impaired, they must have reasonable suspicion to do so. This may include swerving between lanes, reckless speeding, a traffic violation, or other similar actions. At this point, the officer is now trying to gain probable cause to arrest an individual for drunk driving. How do they do this? By asking probing questions and observing the driver's behavior-often done through the use of field sobriety tests.

The main tests that are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Officers will be observing for an involuntary jerking of the eye as they ask the driver to look at objects that they point to. Other medical conditions and even legal amounts of prescription drugs can interfere with the accuracy of this test, however.
  • Walk & Turn: Individuals will be asked to take 9 heel-to-toe steps down a straight line with their arms down at their side, turn, and walk back the same exact way. Officers will look for counting mistakes, the swaying of arms to balance, failure to walk in a straight line, and other issues.
  • One Leg Stand: The subject must stand on one leg, with their hands down at their side, with their other foot six inches off the ground. They may be told to count or an officer will do so for them. Lack of balance and ability to stay on one foot will be observed.

If an officer does not provide proper instructions or demonstrate a test correctly, it could lead to an individual appearing to “fail” the test and may be used against them. However, a Nashville DUI lawyer can step in and review the details of your arrest and any tests used to gain evidence to ensure your rights were not violated. If they were, my firm can fight to have this evidence thrown out, strengthening your defense.

Other Non-Standardized Tests

There are also non-standardized tests that officers can uses, but evidence obtained from these may not be taken as definitively as that gained from standardized tests. These may include the finger to nose test, the alphabet test, and the reverse counting test, among others. Unfortunately, all field sobriety tests are designed to make drivers fail and are used to only gain evidence against them, not prove their sobriety. That means you should be cautious when taking these tests, as even sober drivers can find them difficult. In some cases, it may be more beneficial to politely decline an officer’s request for you to perform any tests than to try to prove your sobriety by agreeing to take them.

Let Andrew C. Beasley, PLLC provide the dedicated legal representation you need to fight your DUI charges. Contact my firm today to if you would like to set up your free consultation.

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