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3 tips for passing a field sobriety test

Field sobriety tests are one of the most common measurements law enforcement use to assess a person's level of intoxication. Despite multiple studies that have called the accuracy and ethical implications of these tests into question, officers still often default to the one-leg stand, horizontal nystagmus and walk-and-turn tests to gauge inebriation. Luckily, there are a few tips you can adopt that can help you pass an FST.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there are over 7,000 car accidents involving alcohol in the state each year. It is understandable that law enforcement would seek to minimize these numbers, but sometimes innocent drivers are wrongly accused because of reliance on FSTs.

1. Stay focused

It is vital that you stay focused when you are taking a field sobriety test. An officer will notice if you seem distracted and stressed out. Listen closely to the instructions that you are given by the officer, and be sure that you follow those directions as closely as possible. Being noticeably distracted can be grounds for failure in and of itself, so it is important to stay focused on the task at hand.

2. Be confident

It is advisable to measure your blood alcohol content, if at all possible, if you plan to drive after drinking. You may think that you are sober when, in reality, you still have a BAC above the legal limit. If you have not been drinking, or if you know that your BAC is within legal limits, you should be confident as you approach the field sobriety test. Do not act nervous or unsure—this could give the wrong impression.

3. Consider alternatives

It is important to understand the implications of a field sobriety test. People with certain physical conditions or those who simply happen to be nervous may not pass despite being completely sober. Similarly, drivers who pass a field sobriety test may still be arrested if they exhibit other symptoms of drunkenness. You may decline an FST if you wish and request that another testing method be used.

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Fairfax, VA 22030-7528

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