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Understanding the standardized field sobriety tests

Most people understand that it is never a good idea to drink too much alcohol and then get behind the wheel. However, there are times when a person only has a drink or two, which can make it difficult to determine if it's okay to drive.

With driving under the influence continuing to contribute to traffic accidents throughout the country, police are cracking down on this behavior. Unfortunately, this means that officers often make mistakes when pulling drivers over and conducting field sobriety tests.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test

What do you know about the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST)? Did you know that this is actually endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA)?

This consists of three unique field sobriety tests:

-- Horizontal gaze nystagmus. This refers to the natural jerking of the eyes as they move from side to side. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, this jerking is more prominent. Officers will look for the following: distinct eye jerking and the inability to follow a moving object.

-- Walk and turn. One of the most common field sobriety tests, this judges a person's ability to complete the simple task of taking nine steps in a heel to toe manner, all while staying in a straight line.

-- One leg stand. With this, a person will lift one foot six inches off the ground and count to 30. Any hopping, using the arms to gain balance, or swaying can be a sign of impairment.

With all three tests in use, the Standardized Field Sobriety Test can help an officer determine if a person has consumed too much alcohol.

However, here's something you need to know: This is not 100 percent accurate. So, even if a person fails one part of the test, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she is drunk.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, it's important to seek legal assistance. You may soon find that mistakes were made during your arrest. As long as you know your rights and the defense strategy that can help you avoid punishment, you can feel good about your current standing and where your case is heading in the future.

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