Examples of How You Can Fail a Field Sobriety Test in Missouri

One-leg stand test

This test requires the subject to elevate one foot approximately six inches off the ground and maintain that position for 30 seconds.

Example: The police officer made the defendant perform the test using each of his feet.  The defendant was able to successfully perform the test while standing on his right foot.  However, because the defendant was unable to keep his right foot off the ground for 30 seconds while standing on his left foot, the officer determined that defendant had failed the test.

This is a good example of when you should call an attorney.  Obviously, the police officer was not satisfied with the initial results, so he continued to force the defendant to perform tests until he finally failed.

Walk and Turn Test

In this test, the subject initially is asked to stand with the toe of his left foot touching the heel of his right foot while the officer explains the test. The subject then takes nine heel-to-toe steps, turns and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back in a straight line. If the subject steps off the line or loses his balance three or more times, that is regarded as a failure of the test.

Example: During the test, the defendant touched his feet heel-to-toe.  Even though the defendant did not start before the instructions were finished, never lost his balance while walking, and did not stop to steady himself or step off the line, the police officer determined that the defendant failed the test because he was unable to stand heel-to-toe while the instructions were being explained, and he was not able to properly turn without losing his balance.

This is a great example of the unfairness of the test and something that can be pointed out during cross examination of the officer during trial.

Counting backwards test

The purpose of this test is to ascertain whether a person can count backwards and remember when to stop counting.

In the first test, the police officer asked the defendant to count backwards from 85 to 72. The defendant successfully counted from 85 to 72, but he stopped at 81 and again at 72 to ask how far he was supposed to count.  As a result, the police officer regarded this as a failure of the test.

This example is a key reason why the the counting backwards test is rarely used and why it requires additional training by the officer giving the test.  If the officer is not properly trained, then the test should not be used.