Field Sobriety Tests

If a police officer pulls you over because you were driving erratically or in a way that indicated you were intoxicated, he or she is required, by law, to perform field sobriety tests before arresting you for driving under the influence. Field sobriety tests judge your ability to perform basic functions such as touching your nose, standing on one leg or following a flashlight or pen with your eyes. If you cannot perform such basic functions, the theory is that you are not fit to drive.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Though there are several ways police officers can test drivers for impairment, a few are more common than others. The three most common types of field sobriety tests in New Mexico are as follows:

Walk and Turn

This test requires the driver to follow the police officer’s instructions while fulfilling simple physical movements. For instance, the officer may ask the individual to walk 10 steps, heel to toe, along a straight line, and then to turn on one foot and return in the same fashion.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

When performing this test, the officer will use a pen or flashlight to determine if an individual is intoxicated. Typically, if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, nystagmus — or an exaggerated jerking of the eyeball — will occur.

One-Leg Stand

As its name implies, this test requires the stopped individual to stand on one foot while the other overs about six inches or so above the ground. The officer will also require the individual to count by the thousands.

These tests are fairly simple, so if a person fails to perform all or one of them, the officer will presume the individual is intoxicated. However, because some people just have poor motor functioning, the officer will also require an individual to submit to a breath or blood test as well.

Refusing Field Sobriety Testing

Despite popular belief, you can refuse to participate in a field sobriety test without repercussions. In fact, New Mexico police officers are required to inform you of this right, which many fail to do. However, bear in mind that if you refuse to participate in a field sobriety test, the officer is likely to ask you to take a breath test, which you also have the right to refuse.

When To Hire a DWI Defense Lawyer

If you were involved in a traffic stop in which the officer asked you to perform one or several field sobriety tests, and if the officer then arrested you for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, call Simon A. Kubiak, Attorneys At Law, PC to discuss possible defenses. There are several ways to argue the results of any given test, which Simon and team can share with you. To learn about ways you can beat DUI charges or, at the very least, minimize the consequences of a conviction, reach out to our Albuquerque criminal defense law firm today (505) 998-6600.

Contact us Today

If you have questions about our legal services, feel free to get in touch with us right away. We quickly respond to all calls because we understand there is little time for delay when it comes to getting you the representation you need. For your convenience, we also have Spanish-speaking attorneys.


Suite 1A, 1121 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102