These Field Sobriety Tests are not really tests at all. Instead, they
are physical agility exercises that are SUBJECTIVE in nature. In other
words, the police officer, who already thinks you are DUI because he
is giving you the Field Sobriety Tests, is the one who is determining
whether you pass or fail each test. The officer is looking for any and
every mistake that you make. In fact, many people with absolutely no
alcohol in their system "fail" these tests.
Field Sobriety Tests include finger tapping, hand clapping, counting
backwards, or reciting the alphabet. These are supposedly tests that
are designed to check "divided attention", a critical skill in operating
a motor vehicle. However, there are many people who, for many innocent
reasons, cannot perform these tests to the officer's satisfaction, and
pay the price with a D.U.I. arrest.
· Nystagmus test The officer will position an object (such as a pen)
12 inches away from the driver's face, and move the object from side
to side while watching the subject's eyes. The officer is looking
for involuntary jerking or trembling of the eyeball. This jerking
or trembling may be a sign that the subject has consumed an intoxicant.
· Walk and Turn The subject takes nine heel-to-toe steps along a
line, turns, and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back. The officer is
looking to see if the accused can keep their balance, follow instructions,
begin early, stop during the test, leave space between heel and toe,
step off the line, or lose balance while turning.
· Standing on One Leg The accused is instructed to stand with heels
together, arms at the side, then raise one leg six inches off the
ground while counting out loud until the officer allows the accused
to stop. The officer is looking for raising of the arms, swaying,
hopping, putting the foot down, inability to stand still, body tremors,
muscle tension, and any statements made by the accused during the
· Finger To Nose This test requires the suspect to place his or her
feet together while standing straight with eyes closed, and bring
the index finger to the nose as ordered by the officer. The officer
is looking for body sway, body tremors, eyelid tremors, muscle tension,
or any statements made by the accused to support a finding of intoxication.
· Rhomberg Balance Test The accused assumes a position of attention,
closes their eyes, tilts their head back, and estimates 30 seconds.
The officer is looking for the inability to stand still or steady,
body or eyelid tremors, opening eyes to maintain balance, swaying
(either front to back or side to side), muscle tension, or statements
made by the accused. The officer is also testing the suspect's internal
clock, which will usually be slow in the case of alcohol or depressants,
or fast in the case of stimulants.
· Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test (PAS Test): One of the most
dangerous Field Sobriety Tests is the Preliminary Alcohol Screening
test, also called the PAS test. This is a portable breath test to
determine the presence of alcohol. The officer is supposed to advise
the suspect that the test is voluntary. These PAS tests do not comply
with Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations and the results
should therefore not be allowed into court.