Any interaction with law enforcement officials in New Jersey can be a nerve-racking experience for civilians. For most of us, the most common form of interaction with law enforcement officials is usually a traffic stop for some type of traffic violation, such as speeding. However, DUI stops are also quite common. And, when these types of stops occur, it is also common for law enforcement officials to administer field sobriety tests.
So, what do our readers in New Jersey need to know about field sobriety tests? Well, for starters, there are typically three different tests that might be administered during a DUI stop: the “walk-and-turn” test; the “one-leg stand” test; and the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, which is more commonly understood as the “follow the tip of my pen with your eyes” test.
The “walk-and-turn” test and the “one-leg stand” test are both fairly easy to understand. In the “walk-and-turn” test, the officer will ask the suspect to walk a straight line for a certain amount of steps, with feet touching heel-to-toe, and then turn around and walk back in the same manner. This test helps the officer judge a suspect’s ability to listen to instructions and complete tasks with divided attention. The “one-leg stand” test is used to test a suspect’s balance. In this test, the officer instructs the suspect to stand on one leg for a certain amount of time without tipping over.
The “horizontal gaze nystagmus” is a bit more scientific. In this test, the officer will usually ask the suspect to follow the tip of a pen as it is moved side-to-side in front of the suspect’s face. During the test the officer is looking at the suspect’s eyes for involuntarily “jerking” that can occur when someone is intoxicated.