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Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) In New Jersey

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is comprised of three different tests that have been formed through the sponsored research of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests were formally done and found to have a certain level of authenticity for pinpointing who has been drinking. It can also offer an idea of how much a person has consumed or the level of alcohol within a person’s system.

Alcohol affects everyone differently and some may have had one drink and still have the same influence as another person that has had a few drinks. Some of the main factors to consider with drinking are size, when alcohol was consumed and how much. The tests are meant to take these factors into consideration and not so much look at how much a person has drinking but how it is personally affecting them. When an officer has reason to believe a driver has been drinking they can choose to pull them over and use one, all or a combination of these tests. There are three tests and they are as follows:

HGN Test

This test will evaluation what is referred to as nystagmus. This is the jerking of the eye that occurs involuntarily. There is more than one reason that it can come up, but one of these includes the influence of alcohol on a person’s system. The eye will normally be taken out to the side at maximum deviate but for those that have consumed a certain amount of alcohol, the eye can start to jerk back sooner than it should. This test will be done in three ways on both eyes. The first will be to have the suspect follow an object and see if they can do so smoothly. Next will be to assess if there is any unnatural jerking that takes place when the eye is brought out to maximum deviation. The eye should be taken out to the side for a few seconds to make sure that an officer does not misread the nystagmus. Lastly, will be to determine if the jerking took place prior to the eye begin brought out to a 45 degree angle from its center. These three exams are done on both eyes.

One Leg Stand

This test will require the suspect to balance on one leg, with their foot about six inches from the ground, as opposed to just hovering over it. They will need to remain that way for thirty seconds and should count by thousands out loud so that the officer can hear them. An officer will be assessing them in a number of ways. They will be looking at if they are able to balance, if they need to use their arms to stay up, if they are swaying back and forth or if they have to put their foot down. Their testing found that around 83 percent of people that show at least two of these signs are likely to have a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .08 percent or more.

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