Can you pass these three field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

Before you get behind the wheel after an evening of drinking alcohol in North Carolina, you should know that if a law enforcement officer pulls you over, he or she may ask you to complete three standardized field sobriety tests. 

AAA explains that many judges consider the outcomes of these tests to be reliable. Here are the three tests, and what the authorities are looking for. 

One-leg stand 

The officer will ask you to stand on one foot with the other about six inches from the ground. While balancing for 30 seconds, you must count out loud by ones starting at one thousand. There are four actions that may indicate you have a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08%: 

  • Swaying 
  • Using your arms to catch your balance 
  • Hopping to keep your balance 
  • Putting your foot down 


This is another balance test, but it also incorporates other challenges that impairment may make it difficult for you to complete. You must walk heel to toe along a line for nine steps, turn on one foot, and come back the same way. In addition to balance, the officer wants to see how well you remember and follow the instructions. 

Horizontal gaze nystagmus 

This test involves an involuntary reflex: Your eye will jerk at a certain point if you are tracking an object (such as the officer’s finger) from side to side, and you have had too much to drinkYou may also have trouble following the object if you are impaired. 

Although you may fail some aspects of these tests, that does not necessarily mean you are intoxicated. Tell the officer if you have health conditions that may affect your balance, are taking seizure medications or other over-the-counter or prescription drugs, or if there is some other factor that may affect your ability to complete the tests. If the officer does not administer the tests correctly, this may also affect the validity of the results. 

This information is general in nature and should not be interpreted as legal advice.