If a Minnesota resident is stopped by the police and suspected of being impaired, he or she may be asked to perform field sobriety tests. The tests are generally designed to give an officer an idea as to a driver’s attention span and physical abilities. An officer may record the results of the tests and use them as evidence in a drunk driving case.
There are several standardized field sobriety tests such as the one-leg stand and the walk and turn. The walk and turn requires an individual to walk nine steps, stand on one foot and then return to his or her original location. The one-leg stand requires an individual to stand with one leg off of the ground for roughly 30 seconds. If people hop or use their arms for balance, it may indicate impairment.
These standardized tests are 91 percent effective according to the NHTSA. Drivers may also be subject to other non-standardized tests such as counting backwards, reciting the alphabet or telling an officer how many fingers he or she is holding up. In many cases, those who perform poorly on a standardized field sobriety may then be asked to take a Breathalyzer. The results of the field sobriety tests plus the Breathalyzer may provide sufficient probable cause to take a driver into custody.
If a driver is taken into custody for DUI, it may be possible to challenge the results of field sobriety tests. For instance, an attorney may assert that the tests were flawed because a driver had a medical condition that made standing or walking difficult. Legal counsel may also assert that a driver was given an improper field sobriety test or was given improper directions prior to taking one. This might result in a case being dismissed.