Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in a DUI Case

Driving under the influence, or DUI, has serious consequences in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The reality is that, depending on timing and biological factors, a Pennsylvania motorist could be deemed over the legal blood alcohol limit after only a couple of drinks.

A Pennsylvania motorist must understand the basic elements of DUI laws in the Commonwealth. This includes a basic understanding of the three primary types of field sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

One of the standardized tests endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. This test is best identified by a law enforcement officer placing a pen or pencil in front of a motorist’s eyes, followed by an instruction to follow the movement of the writing instrument. 

The test measures the level of jerking in a person’s gaze as he or she moves his or her glance from side to side. Some amount of jerking is normal. However, it becomes exaggerated when an individual is under the influence of alcohol.

Walk and Turn

The Walk and Turn is another endorsed standardized test utilized in Pennsylvania at a DUI stop. This test involves a motorist directed to take nine steps, heel to tow. Once this is accomplished, the motorist terms and repeats the process. In fact, this test is not intended to measure balance so much as it evaluates a person’s ability to follow instructions. An individual’s ability to follow multifaceted directives declines when intoxicated.

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One Leg Stand

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The final standardized field sobriety test is known as the One Leg Stand. This involves a motorist being directed to stand on one leg, with the other foot about six inches off the ground. The inability to hold this position without swaying, using arms to maintain balance, or failing all together is indicative of possible alcohol impairment.


A person charged with driving under the influence should contact a qualified, experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney, such as David C. McKenzie III, immediately. Taking this type of proactive approach is the best way to protect a person’s rights and interests in a DUI case. A Pennsylvania DUI lawyer often charges no fee for an initial consultation in a DUI case.

Call or text (610) 680-7842 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form