Field Sobriety Test – Framingham Lawyer

Assessing All the Circumstances


When a police officer stops a vehicle and suspects that the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer will likely administer field sobriety tests. The results of these tests helps form the officer’s opinion about whether the operator was driving under the influence and about whether to arrest the individual for OUI/DUI.

I am Attorney Stephen E. Dawley, and I am an experienced Framingham field sobriety test attorney, having helped many Massachusetts drivers overcome the impact of these tests. For more than 30 years, I have provided dedicated and caring OUI/DUI defense to clients in Massachusetts. Over my career I have developed my skills to attack these tests by police officers.

If you have questions about field sobriety tests or any other aspect of  drunk driving offense cases, please set up an appointment with me by calling 508-308-8191 or by emailing to

Field Sobriety Tests

When a person is stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, a variety of field sobriety tests may be administered by the police. These tests include:

  • One legged stand test: The police officer asks the driver to stand on one foot and count out loud for a specified time without falling or swaying.
  • Walk and turn test: The driver must walk heel-to-toe for nine steps in a straight line, then turn around and repeat without losing balance.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test: The officer has the driver attempt to follow a pen or other object with his or her eyes. This test is generally not admissible.
  • Other tests include touching a finger to the nose or reciting the alphabet. Even without field sobriety tests, the police can charge you with OUI if he or she believes that you were operating under the influence.

Analyzing the Results

Even sober people may fail some of these tests. As an experienced OUI/DUI lawyer I will examine how the field sobriety tests were conducted, discern any errors and determine if the results can be challenged.  Although these tests are designed to give a probability whether someone is driving under the influence they are not perfect. I know how to cross-examine a police officer to lessen or eliminate the impact of the results of these tests. Important factors include:

  • Whether the surface was flat or sloped or rutted
  • Weather conditions (ice, snow, rain)
  • Physical disabilities, visual impairments, age, weight
  • Improper or incomplete instructions from the police
  • Whether the individual was just in an accident
  • Footwear being worn
  • Nervousness

As with a breath test refusal, a field sobriety test refusal cannot be used against you at trial.