Field Sobriety Tests in Missouri
What do you need to know about this DWI evidence?
Field sobriety tests are one of the ways that a St. Louis police officer
that has pulled over a driver on suspicion of driving under the influence
can gather evidence to make an arrest.
YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED BY LAW TO SUBMIT TO A FIELD SOBRIETY TEST. In nearly every
DWI case, the police officer has already made up their mind whether or not
they will try and make an arrest, and the purpose of a field sobriety
test is to simply justify that decision. Don’t let police officers
bully you into something you are not legally required to perform.
An experienced DWI
lawyer will try to have the results of field sobriety tests suppressed in court
for a number of reasons. Many police officers are not properly trained
to administer and/or properly evaluate the results of a field sobriety
test. These tests are largely subjective and are often conducted in non-ideal
What are field sobriety tests?
Field sobriety tests are comprised of physical and mental tasks used to
determine if the driver is impaired. The
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recommended specific instructions on which field sobriety
tests should be conducted and how a police officer should conduct the
tests. The NHTSA has stated that "If any one of the standardized
field sobriety test elements is changed, the validity is compromised."
The NHTSA recommends the following standardized field sobriety tests:
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: Asking the accused to follow an object, such as a pen, with their eyes
in order to observe the involuntary reaction of the eyes at certain angles.
The Walk-and-Turn (WAT) Test: The suspected drunk driver is asked to walk heel to toe in a straight
line and return in the same manner.
The One-Leg-Stand Test: A driver is asked to hold one foot off the ground and count by thousands
for around 30 seconds.
According to some estimates, these tests, when used in combination with
one another, are allegedly accurate in 91% of all DWI cases. If this estimation
is correct, it is also assuming that the tests were performed correctly
and there were no extenuating circumstances that could have contributed
to a false positive.
In addition to these tests, many police officers will ask a driver suspected
of drunk driving to recite the alphabet without singing and/or to count
backwards from 100 to a specific number. These tests are not endorsed
by the NHTSA as part of a standardized field sobriety test rotation.
Why is hiring a St. Louis DWI defense lawyer to your benefit?
A field sobriety test is just one element of the evidence collected in
a DWI case. Other evidence may include:
police officer observations, defendant statements,
preliminary/portable breath test (PBT) and
BAC test results (breathalyzer or blood test).
The team at Millikan Wright, LLC has over 50 years of combined experience
handling cases just like yours. We have worked with clients that have
taken, and failed, field sobriety tests that have led to their subsequent
arrests. As former police officers and a former prosecuting attorney,
our firm has experience on the other side of the law and knows of the
various tactics that can be used to convict you for a crime you are not
sooner that you call our St. Louis DWI attorneys, the quicker that we can begin building a solid
case to cast doubt on your charges.
When your rights and freedoms are on the line, you cannot afford to waste any time!