Wicomico Field Sobriety Tests

A DUI charge is a serious offense that comes with major repercussions, which include fines and in some instances jail time.  While it is a scary situation for anyone to find themselves in, the best decision for someone facing a DUI charge is to get in contact with a knowledgeable DUI attorney in their area.  Prior to receiving a DUI charge in Wicomico, there are three types of field sobriety tests that can be administered to determine whether or not an individual is impaired after they have been pulled over, and the test types are:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
  • The walk and turn test.
  • The one-legged stand test.

Horizontal Nystagmus Test

When conducting the horizontal gaze nystagmus test an officer will hold an object six to eight inches away from an individual’s face and ask them to track it with their eyes while not moving their head.

An officer will look for certain indicators of impairment during this test, which includes:

  • A person’s ability to pursue the object the have been asked to track.
  • Whether or not a person’s eyes are tracking the object equally.
  • Whether or not a person’s eyes are fluttering as they track the object.


When an individual consumes alcohol, their eyes have a physiological response that causes them to sometimes flutter slightly. This is what police officers are looking for during this test. This test is not as significant as the other two tests because it only proves that there is a presence of alcohol, which is not a crime. In Wicomico a DUI charge is not given to someone for having a drink and driving; a DUI charge is given to someone who is driving while impaired.

If the presence of alcohol is discovered, that is not overly significant. This only means that an individual may have had a drink, but it does not determine whether or not they are impaired, but a Wicomico field sobriety test will help the officer determine to charge an individual or not.

The Walk and Turn Test

When conducting the Walk and Turn field sobriety test in Wicomico an officer will again look for certain indicators of impairment, which include

  • Whether or not a person has started the test earlier than they have been asked to.
  • Counting the wrong number of steps as they walk.
  • Whether or not a person is capable of turning around properly.
  • The position that someone stands in as they are being given instructions.
  • Whether or not someone steps off of the line as they walk.
  • Whether or not a person misses the heel to toe requirement when they are walking.

The One-Legged Stand Test

The final test is the one-legged stand. When conducting this test an officer will ask the person in question to stand where they are on one leg and hold their foot parallel to the ground six to eight inches above the ground in front of them with their arms on their sides.

An officer will again look for certain indicators of impairment during this test, which includes:

  • Whether or not a person is swaying.
  • Whether or not a person puts their foot down.
  • Whether or not a person starts hopping around.

Once you have completed the three Wicomico field sobriety tests, an officer will do an assessment that determines whether or not they believe a person performed satisfactorily. Police officers in Wicomico can likely take a person into custody if they do poorly. An individual has the right to refuse to do the sobriety tests, but this decision will ultimately lead to that individual being arrested and taken back to the station for a Breathalyzer test.

Avoiding Sobriety Test Mishaps

To avoid the possibility of a mishap or incorrect results during a sobriety test a police officer must take certain preventative measures prior to administering the tests, such as:

  • They must ask a person if they are suffering from any physical impairments or injuries that may prevent them from being able to do the tests.
  • The road that the test is administered on must be flat and even surfaced, free of debris.
  • The officer must demonstrate each test and answer any questions asked by the individual that they are testing.

The Use of Test Results

In Wicomico, field sobriety test results are primarily used to establish whether or not an officer had probable cause to arrest an individual and take them to custody. If a breathalyzer test has been conducted and an individual’s BAC level is above the legal limit, the sobriety test will not matter.

However, if an individual chose not to take a Breathalyzer test then the court will look at their performance during the sobriety tests to indicate how impaired the person was at the time of the DUI. Again, an individual has the right to refuse the sobriety tests, but they must be prepared for the consequences.