Question: Why do police officers conduct field sobriety tests in Oklahoma?
Answer: There is one field sobriety test that is actually validated, and that’s validated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency. It consists of three parts to make up that one test. It’s like having a football game and having four quarters; you can’t play two quarters and say it’s over. The same thing with this field sobriety test. It consists of the HGN or the eye test. People will a lot of times want to tell me, “Well, I passed the eye test,” and you just cannot tell that. It’s looking for a very slight movement in the eyes and it’s something you don’t even know is happening with your eyes. Where this comes from is a medical test that was used to determine if someone has some type of brain injury, and we have bastardized it to an alcohol test. I was watching a football game the other day and I saw the guy that got hit pretty hard and they were doing the HGN with him on the side. I don’t think he had been drinking while he was running up and down the field, but that’s how they were using. The second element of the test is the walk-and-turn or commonly referred to as heel-toe. That’s a series of nine steps down a line, a very specific, technical type of turn, and then nine steps back. The third part is the one-leg stand. That’s where a person stands on one leg, points his toes, looks at his toe, and counts to 30. Are they accurate? A lot of people have trouble with these tests when they are not at all under the influence of any type of substance. It’s a matter of different people. Just like some people are better at baseball than other people are, some people are better at doing these tests; some people are more coordinated than other people. Weight, age, outside conditions of the wind, the traffic, things of this nature—all of these things play a part in it.
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