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Challenging Field Sobriety Tests on Nevada DUI


Most Nevada DUI (Driving under the Influence) arrests are a result of a field sobriety test done by a police officer. In Las Vegas and the rest of the State, field sobriety tests usually happen in a roadside after a police asks the suspected driver to pull up. They consist of certain actions the driver must complete successfully in order to pass the field sobriety test. In this post, we learn more about field sobriety tests in Nevada and how you can contest their credibility the moment your DUI case goes into trial.

What are field sobriety tests in a Nevada DUI?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had issued field sobriety tests police officers can use on Nevada DUI to gauge a person’s level of intoxication. The three regulated assessments are the following.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus

This test has the police officer using a penlight that the suspected drunk driver’s gaze should follow from side to side or back and forth, hence why it is sometimes called as the penlight test. When there is an obvious jerking in the pupil during the procedure, there is a high chance that some sort of intoxication is present. The police officer could use any other object aside from a penlight on this test.


This type of test involves the suspected drunk driver walking heel-to-toe for nine steps before suddenly turning and walking the same way back for another nine steps. The person must also keep their arms to their side and count loud for the police officer to hear. When the driver goes out of the line set, stops, or loses balance, then they might be intoxicated.

One-leg stand

One of the most challenging field sobriety tests done in a Nevada DUI is the one leg stand. As its name, the person who is doing it must keep their one leg up six inches off the ground while standing and counting to 30. Failing to remain on the position for the time could mean you have been driving under the influence.

While these are the standard procedures for suspected drunk drivers, field sobriety tests in Nevada can actually be refused. However, your refusal could be against you so take caution when taking this route.

If not satisfied with the result, the police officer could also administer a preliminary breath testing through the use of Breathalyzer and even ask for chemical testing to further prove that your intoxication.

What are the factors that affect a field sobriety test in Nevada?

Despite being standardized tests, all three field sobriety tests are not 100 percent accurate. The walk-and-turn test along is only 68 percent accurate according to the NHTSA. This is because not everybody has the same coordination or the same body dexterity and there will always be someone who will fail a test not because they are intoxicated but because the test was improperly overseen.

Factors such as the driver being overweight or facing medical conditions can also affect the field sobriety test. This goes as well for the place of where the test is being held. If the terrain for the walk-and-turn is bumpy then unwanted errors might occur.

How to use a field sobriety test as your defense in court?

Naturally, you could challenge a field sobriety test if ever your Nevada DUI case proceeds to a trial. As we have stated before, all three tests are not completely accurate and you can use this to your advantage.

The field sobriety tests were not accurate

As we have stated before, all three field sobriety tests in Nevada are not entirely exempted from faults. You can cite that the police officer did not follow official guidelines and made you do supposed field sobriety tests that should not be ordered.

The police procedure was unlawful

The police officer dragging you with force out of the vehicle is unlawful and therefore could be used to upturn the DUI charges. Not considering your current condition that will alter the field sobriety test is also something you should bring up.

There was no DUI in the first place

If you are drunk but did not drive, it cannot be considered as Nevada DUI, and field sobriety tests should not take place.

A simple mistake in a field sobriety test could mean your arrest and eventual conviction. Do not let this happen! If you believe that you can challenge a field sobriety test result, do it with the help of a Las Vegas DUI lawyer to ensure that you are getting what only is the best legal outcome!

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