Field sobriety testing in Oregon

| Sep 28, 2018 | Drunk Driving |

Many of those that come to us here at the office of David J. Celuch following a DUI arrest in Portland say that they were surprised how their encounters with law enforcement played out. You might assume that a DUI stop consists of a simple breath test measurement and then your arrest or release (depending on the results of that test). However, before arresting you for DUI, officials must first have probable cause to suspect that you are indeed intoxicated. That probable cause often comes from observations made during field sobriety tests. 

Field sobriety tests consists of actions meant to test your balance, equilibrium and visual acuity. The three most common administered by law enforcement officials include: 

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN)
  • The walk-and-turn test (WAT)
  • The one-legged stand test (OLS)

Per the Oregon Department of State Police, other approved field sobriety tests do exists, yet are typically only administered if the observations made from the aforementioned three are inconclusive. 

The HGN test checks for rapid involuntary movement of your eyes as you follow a pen or flashlight with your gaze. The WAT and OLS tests are fairly self-explanatory: you walk in a straight line and then turn and return, or you stand on leg for 30 seconds. Things such as stumbling, swaying to regain balance or having your view be distracted are seen as indicators of intoxication. Yet what if you simply happen to have poor coordination or balance, or have your vision drawn away by something else in the background? Should these warrant your arrest? 

Unlike chemical tests of your blood, breath or urine, field sobriety tests are not required by law, so you have the option to refuse them. More information of avoiding drunk driving charges can be found here on our site,