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What are non-standardized field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2022 | DWI |

If a Minnesota police officer has pulled you over in a traffic stop and wants to determine if there’s probable cause to arrest you for suspected DUI, he or she might ask you to take a preliminary alcohol screening test. This is a common test that would no doubt include a roadside breath test device that you would be asked to breathe into to check whether the device detects alcohol on your breath.

You might also be asked to take a standardized field sobriety test, which might include a horizontal gaze nystagmus test (an eye test), a one-leg stance or walk-and-turn test, which are the three most commonly used tests to determine probable cause for a DUI arrest. However, a police officer might also ask you to take a non-standardized field sobriety test, so it’s important to understand what this test is like so that you’re better prepared.

Basic types of non-standardized sobriety tests

There are numerous types of field sobriety tests that are non-standardized, including those shown in the following list:

  • Standing with your feet close together, while your head is tilted backward
  • Announcing how many are showing as police officer raises fingers
  • Reciting the alphabet or counting aloud, forward or backwards
  • Touching your nose while your eyes are closed
  • Leaning back to look up at the sky with arms extended at shoulder length

These types of tests are non-standardized because the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has not written specific guidelines or requirements for police officers administering the tests. This means that the way one police officer administers one of these tests might greatly vary from the format another police officer chooses to use.

If you fail a non-standardized field sobriety test, you can wind up in jail

A police officer is free to use a non-standardized field sobriety test to determine whether there’s probable cause to arrest you for suspected drunk driving. If the officer in question determines that you have failed the test, he or she may take you into police custody for DUI.

You’re under no obligation to comply with a request to take a field sobriety test during a traffic stop. You will not incur any legal or administrative penalties for non-compliance. However, not taking a test doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be arrested. If you wind up facing DUI charges in court, prosecutors may try to use the fact that you refused to take a sobriety test as an incrimination tactic. Securing criminal defense support before heading to court is helpful if you plan to refute the charges against you.