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Finger to Nose

Posted by Rob Melchiorre | Oct 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

What is the Finger to Nose field sobriety test?

The finger to nose is a field sobriety exercise that is used by police during a DUI investigation.  This test is designed to test the coordination and motor skills of someone police believe may be under the influence.  The police had the person stand with their feet together and their hands at their sides.  The person will then tilt their head back and close their eyes.  The officer will say, "left or right" and the person will then move their corresponding hand, and touch the tip of their nose with the tip of their index finger.  After touching their nose the person will return their hand back down to their side and wait for the officer to call out the next hand.

The police officer will usually call out the sequence of hands in the following order: left, right, left, right, right, left.  This order is designed to trip people up who are not carefully paying attention.  The finger to nose is designed to have a physical component along with a mental component.  According to law enforcement, this divided attention task is supposed to be similar to driving a car because driving a car is a dividend attention task that requires both a physical and mental component.  However, the finger to nose is nothing like driving a car and any attempt to compare the two is ridiculous.  Think about this, you never close your eyes and tilt your head back when you are driving a car.  

What does a police officer look for when a person performs the finger to nose?

The police look for any small mistake that a person makes.  This can include touching the tip of your nose with the pad of your finger or touching the bridge of your nose.  Even though these mistakes are so minor, they will be noted and held against the person performing the finger to nose.  Any failure to follow the directions to the t will be held against the person performing the the finger to nose.  This can include opening your eyes, not immediately returning your hand to your side after touching your nose, or raising your hands from your side to help with your balance.  This is why we regularly advise clients to politely decline the field sobriety exercises.  

The finger to nose is not a pass or fail test.  The officer can only state whether a person performed well or performed poorly on the finger to nose exercise.  As describe above, when such small mistakes are held against a person performing the finger to nose, it is not in their best interest to perform this exercise for an officer that they do not regularly perform(in most cases they have never done it before) on the side of the road when they are nervous.

About the Author

Rob Melchiorre

Mr. Melchiorre is an aggressive, diligent, and passionate attorney. His impressive track record and commitment to legal excellence have led him to honors such as inclusion on the Super Lawyers® Rising Stars list. Prior to founding Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, PLLC, Mr. Melchiorre was a partner i...


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