Meriden Field Sobriety Testing 

Standardized field sobriety tests are used during traffic stops when a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, to determine whether or not the driver is under the influence. The most common tests are the one leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the walk and turn test.

These tests were developed in the 1970s and are used throughout the United States. Despite being introduced somewhat recently, they remain admissible in court in all states that utilize them, including Connecticut. While Meriden field sobriety testing is not mandatory, officers often request that drivers submit to them. Doing so could be detrimental.

Despite the science that has found the field sobriety tests to be reliable, a driver may not successfully complete the test for reasons that are unrelated to intoxication. If you want to know more, get in touch with an adept DUI attorney who can build your case.

One Leg Stand Test

Meriden field sobriety testing often involves gauging someone’s motor function. During a one-leg stand field sobriety test, the individual is directed to stand with either their right or left foot six inches off the ground while counting loud enough that the police officer is able to hear them. The individual will typically count for 30 seconds or until directed by the police officer to stop.

During the test, the police officer will search for indicators that the driver is impaired. The common sign that becomes apparent during the one leg stand test is an inability to balance, which includes dropping their foot and swaying.

While the inability to balance on one foot can be the result of intoxication, it may also be the result of a weak core and stomach muscles, so that alone is insufficient evidence to determine that a driver is under the influence.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Nystagmus is a condition wherein the eye makes uncontrolled movements repetitively, which can negatively affect depth perception, balance, and vision. When an individual moves their eyes far enough to one side that they are using peripheral vision, nystagmus can occur.

When a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the uncontrolled movement can occur when a light is shined in their eyes, prior to peripheral vision being triggered. When a police officer observes a driver’s eyes with a light, while requesting that they follow a slow-moving object, it constitutes a horizontal nystagmus test.

Individuals that are impaired by alcohol are typically unable to follow the slow-moving object. When an individual’s eye is unable to follow the moving object smoothly or if there is substantial and distinct jerking, the officer accepts it as a sign that the driver is under the influence.

Walk and Turn Test

In the walk-and-turn test, a driver that is suspected of being under the influence is directed by the police officer to walk heel to toe along a straight line. After walking the designated distance, the driver is directed to turn and walk back toward the officer using the same method. The designated distance is commonly less than 20 feet in each direction. To determine if a driver is under the influence, police officers are looking for verification that the driver is unable to accept instructions while maintaining their balance.

Additionally, if the driver does not wait for instructions, does not follow the instructions while performing the test, needs to hold their arms to the side to balance, or is unable to walk in a straight line, the officer will often determine that the driver is under the influence.

If you have questions about Meriden field sobriety testing, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer who can provide thorough information on your rights during a traffic stop.