The Three Types of Field Sobriety Tests in Wisconsin

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We have all heard about field sobriety tests, but what do they entail? The 3 major Field sobriety tests are three different tests used by police officers to determine if a driver is under the influence. These tests assess a driver’s balance, coordination, and ability to focus on more than one thing. Continue reading to learn about three of the FSTs used in Wisconsin.

1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The officer asks the driver to follow a moving object, such as a pen or flashlight, from side to side. This test looks for an involuntary “jerk” of a diver’s eyeball. This jerk is natural and occurs to everyone when their eyes rotate at high peripheral angles. However, this jerking occurs at lesser angles when someone is impaired, giving the officer reason to suspect someone was driving under the influence.

2. Walk-and-Turn Test

For this type of sobriety test, the officer asks the driver to take nine steps forward in a straight line in a heel-to-toe fashion, turn on one foot, and return nine steps in the same manner as before. During this test, an officer is on the watch for…

· Drivers to begin the test before instructions are completed

· Inability to balance while directions are given

· Not walking heel-to-toe

· Loss of balance while turning

· Driver stops walking to regain balance

· Driver takes an incorrect number of steps

· Driver uses their arms to balance

3. One-Leg Stand Test

For this sobriety test, the officer requests that the driver stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count from 1,001, 1,002, 1,003, until the officer says they can put their foot back on the ground. During this test, the officer looks for:

  • Hopping to maintain balance
  • Putting the foot down
  • Swaying while trying to balance
  • Using arms for balance

Although unlikely, these tests are possible to fail sober as well. If you find yourself in a situation where you failed any of the field sobriety tests (sober or not), you need an experienced attorney to help defend your case.

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