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Overview of Field Sobriety

Standardized Field Sobriety Evaluations (SFST’s)

You may have watched the videos on YouTube, you may have heard about it from your friends, and some of you have been exposed to them personally; but, if you ever become the target of a DUI investigation, you will likely be exposed to what are called Standardized Field Sobriety Evaluations. 

The short story is: field sobriety evaluations were developed over a number of years and have been employed as tools utilized by law enforcement officers to determine if an individual is safe to operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs.  As lay people, we have seen the finger to nose evaluation, seen people recite the alphabet, watched people walk a line, and seen subjects stand on one leg.  There are many types of evaluations used by law enforcement in the normal discharge of their duties; however, there are only three evaluations that have been standardized by the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and verified to be accurate and effective when utilized properly.  Those three evaluations are:

  1. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Evaluation
  2. The Walk and Turn Evaluation
  3. The One Leg Stand Evaluation
  4. Other Commonly Used Tests

Other evaluations are taught in Standardized Field Sobriety Courses; however, the above three are the only ones that have verifiable data suggesting their accuracy.  Their name tells you everything you need to know about them.  They are Standardized, meaning that they must be administrated in the exact same way every single time.  They are performed in the FIELD, meaning that elements regarding the environment may change which can have an impact on the evaluations and should be taken into consideration when formulating an opinion.  They aid and assist an officer in determining the SOBRIETY level of a subject.  Finally, they are EVALUATIONS, not tests; meaning they are not pass or fail, they are simply graded on a scale.  Obviously, depending on where you fall on that scale, an officer may use that information to opine that you are under the influence to the extent you are less safe to drive.

Each evaluation has its own separate components, distinct characteristics, as well as positive and negative aspects that lends to its effectiveness.  Officers are taught these evaluations over a period of four days, eight hours a day, for a total of 24 hours of training.  There is a classroom component and live participant component.  Both must be passed to receive a certification.


The Law Office of Carter Pilgrim Stroud is located in Suwanee, GA and serves Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Cumming, Buford, Lawrenceville, Braselton, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Duluth, Norcross, Hoschton, Jefferson, Commerce, Dawsonville, Gainesville, and other surrounding areas.



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| Phone: 770-284-1319

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3725 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., Suite A-4, Suwanee, GA 30024
| Phone: 770-284-1319

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