DUI Field Sobriety


The immediate aftermath of being pulled over for a potential DUI can be intimidating. The field sobriety test can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it can also be a point of defense if you end up being charged with a DUI. With the harsh stance Utah takes on DUI charges, you may be considering a guilty plea. However, an experienced Salt Lake City DUI attorney can give you a fighting chance to lessen or relieve charges resulting from a DUI field sobriety test.

You should only trust an experienced attorney to handle DUI cases. Joseph Jardine and Peter Goodall have over 15 years of experience to their name. This experience gives them the confidence to analyze every aspect of a DUI field sobriety test for possible errors. This allows them to lead the legal team at Jardine Law Office P.C. to successful defenses.


Field sobriety tests are a series of tests administered before a breathalyzer or blood test to determine possible intoxication. The tests are specially designed to reveal impairment of a driver’s ability to pay attention, keep balanced, respond to instructions, and perform physical acts in a coordinated manner. Many officers in Utah and nationwide depend on a National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved three-step test known as Standardized Field Sobriety Test.

The first step of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test involves testing the eyes and is referred to as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Officers instruct pulled-over drivers to follow an object in their hand. They watch for a jerk when the eye looks to the left or right. This jerk happens involuntarily and is intensified when someone is intoxicated. During the test, officers also monitor the eye’s stability while following an object.

The second test is a well-known field sobriety test that involves a possibly intoxicated driver taking steps in a straight line. Officers instruct the driver to take heel-to-toe steps in a straight line. After 9 steps, the officer instructs the drive to turn on one foot and walk a straight line back. This test allows officers to observe the coordination and ability to respond to instructions of the driver they are testing for intoxication.

The final test administers requires the driver being tested to balance on one foot. An officer will instruct the driver to stand with one foot raised and perform a count to 30. This test allows officers to test balance and physical awareness in a driver. Potential signs of intoxication include difficulty staying still, trying to correct balance with arm sways, or needing to return both feet to the ground.

While the previous three tests are the standards endorsed by the NHTA, other field sobriety tests can be administered. Tests can be verbal, including saying the alphabet or counting in reverse. Other common tests include alternating nose touching with closed eyes, counting fingers in succession, and moving the head while stand leg to leg.

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