Field Sobriety Tests in Minnesota: How They Work and What to Know

At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, we understand that being pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence can be a stressful experience. The field sobriety test is one of the most common tools law enforcement officers use to assess a driver's impairment. This blog post will explain how field sobriety tests work in Minnesota and provide vital information to help you navigate this process.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are a series of physical and cognitive tests conducted by law enforcement officers to assess a driver's level of impairment. These tests are designed to measure a driver's coordination, balance, and mental acuity, which can be affected by alcohol or drugs.

Common Field Sobriety Tests

In Minnesota, law enforcement officers typically use three standardized field sobriety tests established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: This test involves tracking an object, usually a pen or flashlight, with your eyes while the officer looks for involuntary jerking movements in your eyes. Alcohol or drug impairment can cause nystagmus, the involuntary jerking of the eyes.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test: During this test, you will be asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn, and return similarly. The officer will observe your ability to maintain balance, follow instructions, and walk in a straight line.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: In this test, you will be instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud for a designated period, usually 30 seconds. The officer will evaluate your balance, ability to follow instructions, and any swaying or hopping.

Important Considerations

It's crucial to keep in mind several key factors when facing a field sobriety test in Minnesota:

  • Voluntary Participation: In Minnesota, you can refuse a field sobriety test. However, refusing a chemical test (such as a breathalyzer or blood test) can result in administrative penalties, including license suspension. It is essential to consult with an experienced DUI attorney to understand the legal implications of your decision.
  • Potential Inaccuracy: Field sobriety tests are subjective assessments law enforcement officers make. Various factors, such as weather conditions, physical limitations, and nervousness, can affect your performance. Your attorney can challenge the validity and reliability of the test results in your defense.
  • Individual Circumstances: It's crucial to consider your circumstances when deciding whether to participate in field sobriety tests. If you suffer from a physical impairment, injury, or medical condition that may affect your ability to perform these tests, inform the officer respectfully and provide any necessary documentation.

Navigating field sobriety tests can be challenging, especially when facing potential DUI charges. At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, our experienced attorneys are here to help you understand the intricacies of Minnesota's field sobriety testing process and provide you with the legal guidance you need. Remember, you have the right to legal representation, and seeking professional advice is crucial to protecting your rights and mounting a solid defense.

Contact Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins if you are in a situation involving field sobriety tests or DUI charges!

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