Field Sobriety Tests
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Even though thousands of people are killed as a result of drunk drivers every year, people still get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol or drugs. If a police officer suspects that a driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can submit the driver to one of many field sobriety tests. There has been much debate over the years about the effectiveness of these tests. Many have argued that if field sobriety tests are not done according to strict protocol, then the results won't be correct. Others argue that failing a test does not always mean the person is drunk or on drugs. Regardless, they are still administered every day on our streets and highways.
The first thing you should know is that these tests are optional. You can refuse to take a field sobriety test without penalty. However, the officer will most likely ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test, which are not optional; refusal to take a breathalyzer test may get you arrested, even if you are not under the influence.
There are a variety of different field sobriety tests that a driver may be asked to perform. Some of the most common field sobriety tests are:
Walk and Turn- Involves taking heel-to-toe steps along a line, turn around, and repeat the process. This tests balance, ability to follow instructions, counting, and perception.
ABC\'s- Repeating a portion of the alphabet backward and forward
Finger to Nose- Involves the subject standing with their feet together and standing straight with their eyes closed. The officer then instructs the person to bring their index finger to the nose and back again. This tests for balance, tremors, muscle tension, and comprehension.
Balance Test- The officer asks the suspect to stand straight, closes their eyes, tilt their head back, and estimate 30 seconds. This tests for the ability to stand still or steady, tremors, swaying, muscle tension, and the ability to keep time.
Nystagmus: The officer will hold an object about a foot away from the person\'s face, and move the object from side to side while watching the subject\'s eyes. This tests for involuntary jerking of the eyes and slow response speed that may indicate the driver is under the influence.
One Leg Stand- The driver is asked to stand with their heels together and their arms at the side, then to raise one leg six inches off the ground while counting out loud until the officer allows them to stop. This tests for swaying, hopping, inability to stand still, body tremors, muscle tension, ability to follow directions, and comprehension.
Only three of these tests have been proven to give the officer just cause to arrest the person for impaired driving: the nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand. If the person fails any of these tests that are administered by a police officer, then they can arrest them on suspicion of driving under the influence. The results of these tests can then be used by the prosecution during the trial. If there is a good prosecution lawyer, he or she will be able to prove that the person was intoxicated at the time and is fully responsible for the accident.
Field sobriety tests are often used in conjunction with breath analysis. Breath analysis is typically done with a breathalyzer. If the blood alcohol concentration is higher than .08, then the driver are considered above the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle. If this test is used along with field sobriety tests, this almost guarantees a conviction. The prosecution will be able to use the facts that the person had more than the legal limit of alcohol in his or her system and that they failed the standard field sobriety tests. This proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was intoxicated and should be held responsible for their actions.
If you have been arrested for a DUI or DWI offense on the basis of field sobriety testing, you should consider contacting and hiring an attorney or lawyer right away. If done soon enough, your lawyer will be able to gather evidence in your defense and try to reduce or sentence or have the charges dropped. A lawyer or attorney is an important person to have on your side at a time like this. If you feel you have been wronged by the police, find a lawyer today who can help through this situation.
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