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What happens during a field sobriety test in Kentucky?

A Bowling Green motorist who has the misfortune of being stopped by a police officer on suspicion of driving while intoxicated might be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. The purpose of the test is to provide the officer with the probable cause needed to take a driver into custody on drunk driving charges.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is used by most law enforcement agencies. Drivers are asked to successfully complete three tasks: The horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary eye movement that is more pronounced in individuals whose blood alcohol content level is above the legal limit.

A common method of observing this eye movement is by having a motorist follow a pen or other moving object using only the eyes while keeping his or her head still. A person under the influence of alcohol will exhibit a jerking eye movement

The walk and turn requires a motorist to walk a specified number of steps along a straight line using a heel-to-toe method. At the end of the specified number of steps, the person must complete a turn on one foot and continue the test in the opposite direction.

This task tests not only the ability of the driver to walk a straight line, but it provides the officer with the opportunity to gauge the person's ability to follow directions.

The final test is the one-leg stand that asks a driver to balance on one foot for a set time period. A person operating under the influence might have difficulty maintaining balance.

The purpose of this posting is to provide an overview of the subject it covers. It is not intended to be use, nor is if offered, as legal advice. Someone with questions about a drunk driving charge or the manner in which police administered a field sobriety test should seek advice from an attorney knowledgeable in criminal law

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Michael J. Thompson, Attorney at Law

16360 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Oak Grove, KY 42262
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Phone: 270-605-0441
Toll Free: 866-397-7788
Fax: 270-439-1177

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