Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests

DUI Lawyer Fairfax VA

Field Sobriety TestsWhen a police officer suspects that a driver is under the influence, there are certain steps he or she will take to prove that suspicion. Field sobriety tests are one of the tools that law enforcement utilizes. But many people ask if they are required by law to participate in these tests if asked to by an officer. A DUI lawyer in Fairfax VA is very familiar with these tests and can determine if the ones used on a person charged with DUI were administered properly.

There have been multiple studies conducted to verify which field sobriety tests are the most effective when trying to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put together Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that the majority of law enforcement agencies around the country use. Many drivers are unaware what these tests entail until they are in the unfortunate position of being pulled over and asked to perform them.

The first of these tests is referred to as the walk and turn and it performed exactly how it sounds. This test is used to see how well the subject can balance themselves or if they stagger at all while they walk, a sign of possible intoxication. The police officer will ask you to walk in a straight line, putting your heel to your toe, for nine steps and then they will instruct you to turn around and walk back towards them in the same manner. The whole time you are walking, you are to keep your arms at your side. Some officers may request the subject count each step as they walk.

The second test which tests the balance ability of the subject is called the one leg stand. The officer will also use this test to see how well you can follow instructions. The subject is told to stand still with both legs together. Then the officer will give instructions to lift one leg off the ground, approximately six inches and hold it here for about 30 seconds.

The third test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. The subject has no control over how this test will turn out since it is based on reflexes. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, their eyes make involuntary jerking motions. Police will take either a pen or their finger and hold it in front of the subject, instructing them to watch the pen or finger as it is moved. While the officer does this, he or she is watching the subject’s eyes for those movements. The horizontal gaze nystagmus is considered the most reliable of all three tests in determining if a subject should be arrested for DUI.

The question as to whether or not you are required by law to perform these tests depends on the state you live in. In some states, there are no penalties if you refuse, while in other states, your refusal may result in more charges.

A DUI lawyer Fairfax VA clients depend on can let you know what the laws are in Virginia. Many DUI lawyers feel that it may be in the client’s best interest if they refuse the testing if they have been drinking because, either way, they will likely be arrested and charged with drunk driving, however, failing field sobriety tests would just provide more evidence the prosecutor could use against them.


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