Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST)
If you are stopped and the officer believes that you may be driving while intoxicated, the officer will ask you to step outside the car and perform certain drills, which are known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). The SFST’s are made up of the following three tests:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
The HGN test is what is commonly referred to as “the eye test” and is generally the first field sobriety test administered. When looking from side to side, a sober person’s eyes tend to jerk — a motion referred to as Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). However, when intoxicated, the HGN becomes exaggerated and occurs at different angles, which is what the officer hopes to observe by having you slowly follow the movements of a pen or flashlight. HGN is not exclusive to alcohol use. There are possible “clues” for the officer to find and if you display four, you have failed this test.
Walk and Turn (WAT)
The Walk-and-Turn (WAT) is the second field sobriety test given as part as part of the SFST’s. The WAT test requires you to take nine steps in a straight line while walking heel-to-toe, then turning in a specified manner and walking back to where you started. The officer looks to see whether you have trouble keeping your balance, following the instructions, taking the correct number of steps or touching heel-to-toe as you walk. There are eight possible clues for the WAT and if you display two clues, you have failed this test.
One Leg Stand (OLS)
The final field sobriety test is the One Leg Stand (OLS). The OLS test requires you to stand with one of your feet about six inches off the ground while you count by thousands until the officer tells you to put your foot down. The officer looks for trouble maintaining your balance, such as hopping, moving your arms or swaying to keep your balance. There are 4 possible clues on the WAT and if you display two clues, you have failed this test.
On the SFST’s, you do not get points for the things you do correctly, you only get a mark for things you do wrong. It is very easy to fail these tests. Many a sober person have failed the test on the street only to go in the station and pass a breath test with flying colors. There are numerous reasons why one might do poorly on the SFST’s and Tarrant county DWI lawyer Mitch Miers can help you navigate this situation.