The Hand Pat Field Sobriety Test
What is the hand pat field sobriety test?
The hand-pat field sobriety test is one of several non-standardized field sobriety tests commonly administered by police officers to help determine if an individual is driving while impaired because of alcohol or some other substance. The hand pat sobriety test is called a non-standardized test because it has not been approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a test that has measurable criteria that can determine if someone has an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC).
Hand pat field sobriety test process:
- Individuals place one hand extended, palm up, out in front of their body. The other hand should be placed on top of the first, with the palm facing down. The top hand should then begin to pat the bottom hand.
- The top hand should rotate 180 degrees, alternating between the back of the hand and the palm of the hand. The bottom hand remains stationary.
- The individual should then count out loud, “ONE, TWO, ONE, TWO, ONE, TWO, etc.,” in relation to each pat.
Police officers normally look at the following four factors when giving the hand pat sobriety test to determine whether or not a driver is impaired:
- Ability to follow instructions,
- Ability to count correctly,
- Rotation and sequence of the hand patting,
- When the individual starts and stops the hand pat test.
Because there are no “set standards” when giving non-standardized sobriety tests such as the hand pat test, they are typically called into question by experienced DUI / DWI lawyers during DUI prosecutions.