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Knowing what to expect when asked to perform SFSTs

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2022 | Criminal Law

There are a variety of reasons for which authorities may choose to initiate a traffic stop and facing a similar experience can be intimidating in any situation. However, there may be a difference between being pulled over for a traffic offense such as speeding and facing allegations of driving while under the influence. 

If authorities in North Carolina suspect you are impaired, they may ask you to perform a set of tests known as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Understanding what to expect from this process may be integral to preparing to protect your interests and determining when it might be time to seek guidance on your legal rights and options. 

What do these tests measure? 

While breathalyzer tests may seek to measure the level of alcohol present in your bloodstream, SFSTs are different and may seek to measure numerous variables, some of which may include: 

  • Your coordination:  The walk-and-turn test may seek to measure your ability to maintain coordination while walking back and forth in a straight line, and authorities may also look for signs such as wavering or extending your arms for balance. 
  • Eye movements:  The horizontal gaze nystagmus is a test that may task you with tracking an object’s movement with your eyes and without exhibiting signs such as jerking of the eyes. 
  • Your balance:  The one-leg stand test could measure your ability to maintain balance while standing on one leg with the other just off the ground. Struggling to keep balance or letting the other foot down may prove detrimental. 
  • Cognitive function:  Your cognitive function and your ability to listen to instructions and perform tasks may also be relevant factors at play during similar testing procedures. 

There are also numerous variables that could influence the results of SFSTs and while you may retain the right to refuse to perform these tests, doing so might not always be in your best interests. 

Your legal rights and options 

Facing DUI charges can be a daunting experience, as a conviction for similar offenses can carry serious penalties that could have a lingering impact on your life. If a traffic stop leaves you facing allegations of unlawful behavior, it could be beneficial to consider seeking guidance on your legal rights and available options. Such a decision may prove integral to helping you prepare to make informed decisions about your situation and to create a strategy with which to seek the best outcome possible concerning your future during court proceedings.