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Standard Field Sobriety Tests for DUI in Utah

If stopped and the officer has probable cause that you are intoxicated, you will be required to submit to a sobriety test. Under Utah law, the officer can ask you to submit to any test. However, only three are accepted by the Utah courts: walk & turn, one-leg stand, and the horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The walk & turn is basically asking you to walk in a straight line toe-to-heel and walk back. The officer will normally use a line to conduct the test (i.e. the yellow line). You will start with one foot forward. You will take one step forward. The heel of your second foot should be touching the toe of your first foot. You will continue doing the same for nine steps. You will turn around and walk back in the same manner. The officer is looking for eight specific clues: (1) that you can’t balance during instructions; (2) that you start too soon; (3) that you stopped while walking; (4) that you can’t touch heel to toe; (5) that you stepped off the line; (6) that you used your arms to balance; (7) that you lose your balance on turn or turn incorrectly; and (8) that you take the wrong number of steps.

The one-leg stand is the second test. The officer will ask you to stand straight. You will then lift one of your legs in front of you and nine inches above the ground. You will then start counting; for example 1001, 1002, etc. The test last for 30 seconds. You are not allowed to use your arms for balance. The officer is looking for four specific clues; (1) that you are swaying while balancing; (2) that you are using your arms to maintain balance; (3) that you are hopping; and (4) that you placed your foot down.

HGN is a scientific test. When you consume too much alcohol, you develop a condition called the Nystagmus. A nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eyes. You can’t control the jerking nor can you do anything about it. To administer HGN, the officer will take a stimulus (a pen) and tell you to follow it with your eyes from side to side. The officer is looking for slight jerking of the eyes. The officer is looking for three clues: (1) lack of smooth pursuit; (2) Distinct Nystagmus at Maximum Deviation; and onset of Nystagmus prior to 45 degrees.

Lack of smooth pursuit refers to the standard jerking. The stimulus is placed at the left side for 2 seconds, the center for 2 seconds, and the right side for 2 seconds. If your eyes are jerking from moving left to right or right to left, a Nystagmus has occurred. The Nystagmus occurs when the stimulus is placed at the edge of the left or right side. The stimulus is left there for 4-5 seconds. The officer is looking for a jumping/jerking of the eyes. This is indication of a Nystagmus. The final test is the onset of Nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. To conduct this test, the officer will place the stimulus at a 45 degree angle between the front of your eyes and the side of your eyes. The stimulus will be held there for 4-5 seconds. The officer is looking for the jerking or bouncing of the eyes.


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