Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs)
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The standardized field sobriety test is a series of physical exercises an officer will ask you to perform when you’ve been stopped on suspicion of drunk or impaired driving. These tests are designed to determine a person’s “balance, coordination, and the ability of the driver to divide his or her attention among several tasks at once.” (More information can be found at the NHTSA website). The exercises can include:
- Following a pen or other small object with your eyes: The officer is looking for jerky eye movement
- Standing on one leg for a certain length of time: The officer is looking for inability to balance without lifting arms, swaying, or putting the lifted foot down
- Walking a straight line heel-to-toe and then turning: The officer is looking for an inability to follow instructions, maintain balance, walk a straight line, keep feet together, and stop and start when instructed.
- slurred speech,
- clothing type and state (such as party clothes or rumpled or spilled on clothing),
- bloodshot eyes,
- scent-masking materials such as air fresheners or a lot of perfume,
- test refusal
- or other incriminating statements during the tests, to name a few.
Even completely SOBER drivers can have trouble passing a field sobriety test!
The field sobriety tests are voluntary, although this is not often made clear during the stop. There is no legal consequence for refusing to take a field sobriety test.
It is important to note that an experienced and qualified attorney will know how to defend your case whether you passed or failed the tests or refused to take them altogether. Our attorneys have all successfully completed the same National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s IACP training to conduct Standardized Field Sobriety Tests taught to all Utah police officers at Utah’s POST Academy—and they are all qualified INSTRUCTORS to teach administering this test to others! Click here to learn about our other credentials.
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