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Standard elements of field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2020 | DUI

When a police officer stops a driver on suspicion of a DUI, there are specific steps that typically occur. Law enforcement usually follows a prescribed order to the investigation, even in Alaska. 

We understand how stressful a DUI traffic stop may make drivers feel. That is why we aim to educate the public on how to handle them. Take a look at how police use field sobriety tests. 

Basic field sobriety tests 

Police perform field sobriety tests to help determine intoxication. If performed correctly, the results may lead to arrest. 


A standard test officers perform on drivers suspected of driving drunk is the one-leg balance test. During this, the driver must raise one foot off the ground and hold for a particular time. The officer is looking for signs of impairment by observing whether the driver sways, loses balance, tries to use arms or places the foot down. 

Gaze nystagmus 

If a driver’s eyes are bloodshot, it may indicate to an officer that the individual has consumed alcohol. The officer may perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. When the eyes follow an object, they should do so smoothly. However, under the influence, the eyes may jerk abruptly or simply fail. An officer asks the driver to follow something like the tip of a pen and observes whether the driver turns the head to follow or the eyes start to jerk when they should not. 

Motor skills 

The walk and turn test involves heel-to-toe walking for a requested number of steps. When the driver finishes those steps, he or she must turn around and repeat it. The officer observes balance, fine motor skills, memory recall and whether the driver maintains the line. 

The results of these tests come into play during a DUI trial. For further insight, continue to our website here.