An Overview Of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests In Alabama
Interviewer: What are SFSTs and what is their purpose?
Zach Peagler: Standardized Field sobriety tests. They are tools used to aid a police officer in gathering enough probable cause to make an arrest for DUI.
Field Sobriety Testing Allows a Police Officer to Determine the Necessary Amount of Probable Cause for a DUI Arrest
Interviewer: If I’ve never heard of the standardized field sobriety tests, how would you sum them up and how would you describe them?
Zach Peagler: I would describe it as testing that allows an officer who has a reasonable suspicion that someone is under the influence of alcohol and driving, to perform those tests in order to gather the necessary amount of probable cause to make an arrest for driving under the influence.
There are Three Field Sobriety Tests Under the NHTSA have Sufficient Scientific Basis
Interviewer: Is there a scientific basis for these tests?
Zach Peagler: There is a scientific basis for three tests under the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, NHTSA (“Nitsa”), it’s what it’s called, it’s the acronym. There are three standardized field sobriety tests and those have been adopted because there is enough scientific data to back those tests up that each of those tests would be an indication of impairment by alcohol. And those three tests are the walk and turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the one leg stand.
Field Sobriety Tests are Usually Administered When a Driver is Pulled Over and Suspected to be Impaired
Interviewer: At what point are these tests administered during this whole process?
Zach Peagler: They are administered on the road side, so if an officer pulls somebody over, typically the person would be pulled over for violating some sort of traffic law and if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that they have been drinking or are under the influence of alcohol, then he will perform those field sobriety tests right there on the road side.
The HGN Test is Administered First, Followed by the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand
Interviewer: Is there a particular order?
Zach Peagler: The order typically is the horizontal gaze nystagmus, followed by the walk and turn, followed by the one leg stand.
Field Sobriety Tests are Mostly Administered During the Night in Alabama
Interviewer: Do they administer these tests or do they happen more frequently at night?
Zach Peagler: Probably so. The only reason for that is that’s when most suspicion for DUI cases are made at night and that’s just by the nature of when the typical person would be driving under the influence and when officers are going be more aware, or may have a preconceived notion somebody is drinking and driving.
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