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Did a failed field sobriety test result in a DUI charge?


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Police officers in Colorado are frequently on the lookout for those who may be operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Those suspected are typically pulled over and asked to participate in field sobriety testing. A failed test could result in a DUI charge.

There are, currently, only three standard field sobriety tests. These are the one-leg stand, the walk and turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. There are several others out there, but they are not deemed as accurate as these, which is why these are considered the gold standard for detecting impairment.

The one-leg stand involves a person standing still, raising one foot off the ground and holding it steady for a short period of time. This, he or she must do without wobbling, hopping or using arms for balance. The inability to do this relatively simple action appropriately is generally deemed a sign of impairment.

The walk-and-turn test generally involves walking a line, heel to toe, turning and walking back to the starting point. Again, one cannot use arms for balance, sway or come off the line. These actions, or failing to follow all officer directions, could be taken as a sign of impairment.

Finally, the HGN is a test that looks at a person’s eye movements. Naturally, eyes jerk a little bit when rolled to specific angles. This jerking movement is exaggerated when a person is under the influence of certain drugs or alcohol.

Field sobriety tests are believed to be accurate at least 65 percent of the time. There are a number of things that can contribute to failing these tests outside of impairment, though — such as age, medical conditions, medications and injury, among others. Colorado residents who fail these tests will not be automatically convicted on their DUI charge. They will still have the chance to fight the charges filed against them in court as they seek case dismissals, charge reductions or alternative sentencing — whichever is best for their circumstances.

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

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