Use of Field Sobriety Tests in Norfolk DUI Cases

If pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence, you will likely be administered a series of field sobriety tests by law enforcement officers. Below, a Norfolk DUI lawyer discusses these tests and how they can be used to determine a driver’s level of impairment. For more information on these tests call and schedule a consultation today.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are a method that officers use to obtain evidence to be used against you at your trial. They are a series of tests that they’ll ask for the defendant to perform at the scene which are supposed to show them whether or not you are actually under the influence. Each test needs to be administered in very specific way and the officer is trained to look for various things that can show that someone is intoxicated during each particular test. A lot of times during the trial, an attorney will ask the officer to perform the test himself and tell the defense exactly what it was that they were looking for and what they observed to make sure that the tests were administered properly

There are three different types of standardized tests that are approved by the NHTSA. These are:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

This is what a lot of people refer to as the eye test.  It’s a test that shows whether your brain’s ability to control your eye muscles correctly has been impaired by alcohol or drugs. Generally, it’s when the officer will hold a pen or some straight object in front of your eyes and ask you to follow the pen without moving your head as he moves it from side to side. If he gets to the side of your head and your eyes begin jerking, this is generally taken as involuntary jerking due to impairment.

Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test is when the officer will ask the defendant to take 9 steps forward in a straight line, heel to toe and count out loud. Once they reach the 9 step, then they have to pit it on one foot and repeat the test back in the opposite direction.

One Leg Stand Test

The one-leg stand test requires the driver to stand with his arms still at his side with one foot off the ground at least half a foot. He needs to hold this position for about 30 seconds and count out loud. While he is standing, he is not allowed to raise his arms for balance or is not allowed to sway or do anything really except stand still and he can’t touch the elevated foot to the ground more than twice

The Weight of Field Sobriety Tests At Trial

These tests are heavily weighed on a DUI trial because often times, DUIs are only based on the officer’s observations from these tests. Even though the eye test for example is scientifically unreliable and the other two tests are sometimes not even easy for people to do while they’re sober, they’re still considered extremely accurate and reliable by the court. Typically, this is simply due to the fact that there isn’t a lot of evidence in a DUI except for the tests and the behavior of the defendant.

Can You Refuse To Perform Field Sobriety

Absolutely, all field sobriety tests are purely optional in Norfolk. Not only do you not have to perform them but there is no penalty for refusing and the only thing taking one does is provide more evidence for you to be arrested and then convicted later on.