If a Minnesota police officer makes a traffic stop because he or she witnesses a vehicle veering over the yellow line, the officer might ask the driver to step out of the vehicle to take a field sobriety test. Veering over the line or other erratic driving maneuvers often creates suspicion for drunk driving. It is common for police to ask a driver to take a field sobriety test when determining whether there is probable cause to make a DWI arrest.
There are several types of sobriety tests
No licensed driver in Minnesota or any other state is obligated to comply with a request to take a field sobriety test. Any man or woman who does comply will likely be asked to perform one or more of several types of tests, including a one-leg stance, walk-and-turn or horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Each test consists of a series of basic instructions and tasks, which the officer in question will explain, then closely observe how well the driver can follow directions and perform the tasks.
A one-leg stance test involves standing on one leg with arms relaxed and head tilted toward the sky. The person taking the test might also be asked to count out loud by 100s, 1000s or in some other incremental fashion. Performing this test would be challenging — even for a sober person — for someone who does not have good balance skills. The walk-and-turn test requires a person to extend arms out at shoulder length, then walk a straight line by placing the heel of one foot at the toe of the other with every step, which is also difficult for those who often trip or lose their balance. A horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a test that requires a person to track an object using eyes only, no head movement.
The police officer administering the test determines the score
With the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a Minnesota police officer is watching to see if the person’s eyes start to shake or move erratically before reaching maximum peripheral vision. In each of these field sobriety tests, it is up to the officer administering the test to decide whether the person passes or fails. If a DWI arrest occurs, criminal charges may follow, which is why it is always best to request criminal defense support as soon as an arrest has taken place.