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Types of Sobriety Tests Conducted by Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officer preparing a breathalyzer test

Drivers suspected of drunk driving (OWI/DWI/DUI) are often asked to take field sobriety tests. There are several sobriety tests, but which one will be asked of a driver depends on the circumstances surrounding the suspicion.

If you were charged with driving under the influence, it is essential to get legal representation immediately. The attorneys at Branstad & Olson will guide you through your case and work to get you the best result possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Field Sobriety Tests

  • One-Leg Stand – The test is as described, and the officer determines balance and following direction.
  • Walk and Turn – The test is also as described and the officer makes determinations about balance and following directions.
  • Horizontal-Gaze Nystagmus – A test in which the officer has the suspect watch an object and determines the amount of jerking or ‘lack of smooth pursuit’ while watching the object move.
  • DRE Testing – One suspected of being under the influence of a drug may be asked to perform specific tests by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). These are officers who obtain special certification and have elite training in determining if a driver is under the influence of a substance.

Breath Tests

There are also two types of breath tests that law enforcement may try to utilize to see if a driver is intoxicated.

Portable/Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)

This is the smaller hand-held machine usually used at the scene to measure the amount of alcohol in a driver’s system by measuring detectable alcohol in the breath. This reading is generally not admissible in criminal proceedings.


The DataMaster or other Evidential Breath Testing Machine is the larger machine usually used at the station to measure the amount of alcohol in a driver’s system by measuring detectable alcohol in the breath. This reading may be admissible in criminal proceedings if law enforcement gave appropriate warnings and information.

Blood or Urine Sample

Blood or urine samples may be requested (or in some cases, demanded) based on circumstances. Again, law enforcement must use correct procedures when obtaining fluid samples.

Were You Charged with Driving While Intoxicated?

Drivers accused of driving while intoxicated have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

From the side of the road before a charge to after release from jail, you are welcome to contact the experienced OWI/DWI/DUI defense attorneys at Branstad & Olson. Reach out to our team online or by phone. (515) 329-3100

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