Before your first attempt at a field sobriety test, the concept may seem simple. These may seem like easy skills you could master with a bit of practice.
While you may be able to master walking in a straight line after a few drinks, you likely will not be able to practice enough to walk away after being pulled over for drunk driving.
Here’s why you won’t outsmart a field sobriety test.
There are several parts to “pass”
When you see a field sobriety test in a movie or on TV, it can seem simple; follow the directions and walk in a straight line. However, officers are looking for more than the completion of the task. They are looking for other factors that could indicate that you have had too much to drink, such as:
- Starting before the officer finishes the instructions
- Losing balance
- Stopping during the test
- Taking the wrong number of steps
Often, these tests can be difficult for someone to pass while sober, so trying to avoid errors while drunk is unlikely.
The officer has already made up their mind
Once a traffic stop becomes a “drunk driving stop,” everything that happens tends to add to the officer’s belief that you are under the influence of alcohol. From their conversation at the beginning of the stop until they decide to move forward with an arrest, the officer has likely already decided what will happen next.
Since the officer is already convinced that you have had too much to drink, there is very little chance that you will complete a field sobriety test and get to drive home.
The test you can’t practice for
There are three standard field sobriety tests, the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. The HGN test measures your ability to follow an object with your eyes without an involuntary twitching reflex.
While you may be able to practice the tests where you need to stand up and walk around, there is no amount of practice that will help you pass the HGN test.
If you are unsure if you have had too much to drink, you should contact a loved one or a professional who can help you get home safely.