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Field Sobriety Tests and Decision to Arrest

Posted on:1/5/2012
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test at the arrest scene estimates the angle at which a DUI suspect's eye begins to jerk about or "oscillate" Nystagmus is a medical term for eye oscillation.

To perform the test, the police officer requires the suspect to follow the beam from a penlight at close range, straight ahead, and then from right to left. If the suspect's eye begins to jerk before 45 degrees off the center, a BAC of over 0.05 percent is suggested. Although the results of this field test are usually inadmissible as evidence, the test is commonly used.


With respect to the field sobriety tests, the police officer must determine whether to make an arrest - although probably his or her decision will already have been made, based on personally observing the suspect.


A different rule applies with respect to the breathalyzer test and other chemical tests such as blood or urine tests. In most states a DUI suspect's license or learner's permit is instantly suspended if the test is refused. Moreover, the suspension usually "sticks" regardless of whether the suspect is later found guilty. The length of the suspension can vary from state to state.


If you have been arrested based on the results of your field sobriety tests or chemical tests, you can challenge these results in a court of law. There are many factors that affect the results of these tests. These tests are not fool proof.

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