There are two other validated field sobriety tests, namely the walk and turn and the one-leg stand test. Basically in terms of each one of those tests, there’s a certain number of indicators or cues an officer will be looking for as the person performs the tests and which the officer uses to evaluate the performance. The easiest one to go through would be the one-leg stand test. In connection with that, there are four indicators the officer will be looking for.
What the test requires the person to do is stand still with their arms down at their side and lift the leg of their choice, keep it elevated as long as the officer says, which would be 30 seconds, look at the foot, and then do a number count in sequence of one thousands: one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. What the officer is looking for is as he or she evaluates the performance is basically four things.
First, are they swaying to any appreciable agree while doing the test? Secondly, do they put the foot down anytime during the performance of the test? Thirdly, are they having balance problems so they hop in an effort to maintain balance? Fourthly, do they raise their arms or lift their arms from their side in an effort to maintain the balance. Those are the four indicators the officer will be looking for.
If two or more of those cues are present, the officer will be able to say the person failed the test. Scientifically the State would contend that that would be an indication a person’s alcohol level is over a .08%. However, in Arizona, they cannot say that. They can only say the person failed the test.
The walk and turn has eight indicators. That basically consists of taking a heel-to-toe position, take nine steps out on an imaginary or a real line, touch heel to toe, arms down at the side, make a pivot turn, take nine steps back. On that test, there’s eight cues or indicators that the officer will be looking for. If two or more are present, that would be an indication that the person had failed or scientifically that the person’s alcohol level is above .08%.
These tests, frankly, are designed to show somebody failed. I say that because it’s most obvious with the walk and turn test. If there’s two indicators present, that would indicate the person failed it or has an alcohol level of more than a .08%
Two indicators would be if the person stepped off the line on one step and used his or her arms on one step. The person can do everything else entirely correct in terms of the test, but if they step off the line one time as well as maybe at one point use their arms on one step, they failed the test. When you look at it that way, there well over 100 chances for a person to do something wrong. If only two of those were present, then the person would fail. . Looking at it that way the test is really meaningless.
Is There Anything Else About the Field Sobriety Tests That You Would Like to Share?
There are three other tests that are not validated. Most agencies would do primarily the three validated tests: HGN, walk and turn, and one-leg stand test. The three others are the Romberg modified, the finger to nose, and the finger count. Those used to be given a lot more than they are now. Most agencies do not use those tests.
Once in a while, however, an officer does these tests and so I’ll just run through one; the Rhomberg modified is a fairly common test of the three, probably the most common. Most commonly what a person’s asked to do is stand still with their arms down at their side, their head tilted back, their eyes closed, heels together, and recite a specific number sequence or the alphabet. Usually, if it’s a number sequence, it’s a little bit odd, meaning for example, it would be 36 to 6 versus 35 to 1.
What an officer would be looking for is a number of the cues. Fails to keep head tilted back throughout the test, recites the wrong sequence, arms up the side, open eyes during testing. Again, there’s a number of the indicators that the officer would be looking for. The test is evaluated the same way as the walk and turn. For example, if at one point during the performance of the test the person opened his eyes, and then the remainder of the test kept them closed, that would be the indicator; the presence of that particular cue.
These tests are designed to show somebody failed. The same is true with the finger to nose test as well as the finger count test.
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