Maryland police officers typically use three roadside tests to establish probable cause to make a drunk driving arrest. These are known as standardized field sobriety tests. An officer can also use a non-standardized sobriety test – more about that in just a bit. Failing a sobriety test usually means an arrest on DUI charges will occur.
The three standardized tests that Maryland police often use during traffic stops when a driver is suspected of DUI are the walk-and-turn test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and the one-leg stance test. A driver is not required to take a field sobriety test. However, if a driver does comply and fails, it constitutes probable cause for an arrest.
Basic overview of standardized tests
In a walk-and-turn test, the participant must walk a straight line with arms outstretched at shoulder length while placing the heel of one foot at the toe of the other with every step. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is an eye test where the person taking the test must track an object left to right or up and down without moving his or her head. To perform a one-leg stance test, the test taker must stand on one leg for approximately 30 seconds.
Non-standardized tests are permissible as well. Such tests often include a police officer holding up fingers and instructing a driver to count them or asking a driver to recite the alphabet or count backward. Anyone who fails a field sobriety test in Maryland may wind up facing DUI charges, which is why it is always best to request legal counsel as soon as a driver at the first opportunity.