Louisiana criminal defense: Failed field sobriety testing

Louisiana residents who have been pulled over for suspected drunk driving have likely been asked to perform standard field sobriety testing. This is common practice. Those who fail these tests may find themselves facing criminal charges and in need of a criminal defense.

What are the standard field sobriety tests? While there are many tests that police officers can use to check for impairment, there are only three that are deemed the gold standard. These are the:

  • One-leg stand
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Walk and turn

The one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn tests are all about balance, physical ability and the ability to follow directions. To pass these tests, one must perform the physical tasks while maintaining balance without using one's arms, swaying or hopping, and one must complete the task precisely as instructed. The horizontal gaze nystagmus is all about looking at eye movement. When impaired, a person's eyes will jerk excessively when rolled at specific angles. To pass this test, again, one must follow directions precisely, and the officer must not see any exaggerated eye jerking.

Many believe these tests to be highly accurate. The problem with them, though, is that they are all subjective. Two police officers watching may not see things the same way. For this reason, failing a field sobriety test does not mean one will be convicted on a DUI charge. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, Louisiana residents who are facing DUI charges may be able to fight the results of these tests in court.

Source:, "Field Sobriety Test to Assess Drunk Driving", Buddy T, Accessed on March 13, 2018

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