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Field Sobriety Tests in Tennessee

Memphis DUI Lawyer

Field sobriety tests are used in order to determine the impairment of drivers if they are suspected of being under the influence. They test a driver's physical coordination and can lead to probable cause for an arrest if performed poorly. There are standardized and non-standardized tests that can be used in Tennessee. Unfortunately, the reliability of these tests are not high and there is much error that still exists.

The first reason is that the results are subject to the administration of the law enforcement officer. On top of that, there are countless outside factors that could result in poor performance besides being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Tennessee, you need to seek representation from a Memphis DUI attorney. The Claiborne Ferguson Law Firm, P.A. is aware of the defenses that can be made against field sobriety tests and we can help fight against your charges.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

This is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests used in Tennessee. Nystagmus is the term that describes the involuntary jerking of your eye. There are alterations of this when intoxicated. After being instructed to follow some sort of stimulus with your eyes, law enforcement will monitor the performance of the Nystagmus. If the jerking starts to occur before your eye reaches 45 degrees, it is thought to be a sign of intoxication. There are several other factors that can cause this to happen; however, showing that the test is not fully reliable.

Walk- And- Turn Test

This is a physical test that challenges the suspect to divide their attention between mental and physical tasks. The officer will instruct the suspect to take nine steps, walking heel to toe, along a line. After nine steps, the suspect is told to make a pivot turn and then take nine more steps back to the start. There are clues that the officer will look for while the suspect performs the test.

Some include failing to walk heel to toe, using their arms for balance, taking more or less than nine steps or starting before instructed. Intoxication is not the only factor that can affect a person's performance on this type of test. Being older, overweight or wearing certain elements of clothing can make this test more difficult.

One Leg Stand Test

This is third standard field sobriety test used and it also tests the suspect's ability to perform mental and physical tasks at the same time. Standing on one foot and counting aloud tests balance and also focus to continue counting properly. While doing so, the officer will look for swaying, using arms for balance or placing their foot on the ground. These are seen as signs of intoxication even though sober people often struggle with this task.

Non-Standardized Tests

Some of the other tests that can be performed to test intoxication is the finger to nose test, the alphabet test or the backward count test. There are clues that law enforcement will look for in any of these tests and if it is suspected that you are under the influence, you could be arrested. Regardless of the exact test you performed, there are several defenses that can be made against the results. With the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Memphis, you can challenge the performance of the arresting officer and challenge the accuracy of the test.

Contact The Claiborne Ferguson Law Firm, P.A. to schedule your free case evaluation. We can help you fight against your DUI charges and avoid the serious penalties.

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