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Field Sobriety Tests in San Francisco

Field sobriety tests are designed to test your coordination so a San Francisco police officer can determine if you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, two of the three tests, walk and turn and one leg stand, are difficult for many of us to perform even when we are completely sober. The third test, horizontal gaze nystagmus, is designed to measure involuntary eye movement by those who are intoxicated when looking to one side.

As mentioned above, there are three standard tests authorized by the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHSTA) to indicate impairment and estabish cause for a DUI arrest:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
  • Walk and Turn (WAT)
  • One Leg Stand (OLS)

Contrary to what many people think, you are not required by California law to take any field sobriety test. You are also not required to take a preliminary alcohol screening test using a hand held breath testing unit (also called a hand held breathalyzer) and in most cases, it's best to politely decline to do so.

However, it is very important not to confuse a field sobriety test or the PAS test with the chemical blood or breath test that's required when you get to the police station. According to the California Implied Consent Law, you are indeed required to take a blood, breath or urine test at the police station. Failure to do so can and will have very serious consequences.

If you did refuse to take a blood, breath or urine test, your situation is certainly more complex, but you stil have rights and a skilled DUI lawyer in San Francisco can possibly minimize your consequences both in the criminal courts and at the DMV administrative hearing.