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How field sobriety tests impact drunk driving arrests

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense in Nebraska. As the consequences for drunk driving are serious and typically involve a loss of driving privileges or even jail time, officers must be certain that an arrest is justified. Rather than relying on gut feelings regarding a driver's level of intoxication, police will use various tests to ascertain a driver's level of intoxication.

If an officer pulls over a driver for erratic behavior or notices signs of intoxication during a traffic stop, he or she might request that the driver submit to field sobriety testing. These are simple, roadside tests that police use when trying to determine if further testing is needed. Failing a field sobriety test might lead an officer to request a Breathalyzer or blood test.

Field sobriety testing is usually comprised of three different physical tasks. The one-leg stand consists of asking a driver to stand with one of his or her feet raised approximately 6 inches, and to remain that way for 30 seconds. An involuntary jerking of eye muscles that is symptomatic of intoxication is measured through the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The walk and turn test is perhaps most well-known and consists of asking a driver to walk in a straight line, turn around and walk back.

Unlike tests that measure a person's blood-alcohol content, field sobriety tests are heavily dependent upon an attending officer's interpretation. Drivers who believe they were unfairly arrested because of their field sobriety test may be well advised to take swift action under the careful guidance of an experienced counsel. Since drunk driving charges tend to move quickly in Nebraska, any delay could impact the outcome of the proceedings.

Source: FindLaw, "Field Sobriety Tests", Accessed on Jan. 23, 2018

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