When law enforcement officers suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may initiate a traffic stop. After stopping the driver, they may come to the window, speak to the person behind the wheel and determine if it is necessary to ask the driver to step out of the vehicle. Once that happens, police may perform certain field sobriety tests.
The sobriety tests performed at a suspected DUI traffic stop are standardized tests designed to assess a driver’s mental and physical states at the time. They test balance, coordination and ability to follow directions. If you do not pass any of the sobriety tests performed, law enforcement may then ask you to submit to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content. It may be in your interests to be familiar with sobriety tests and their proper administration.
Standard tests at a DUI traffic stop
When administered correctly by a trained law enforcement officer, field sobriety tests are considered very reliable. The prosecution can use the results of these tests as evidence against a driver in a DUI case. The three standardized field sobriety tests include:
- Walk-and-turn test – In this test, an officer will ask a driver to walk a certain distance, turn around and come back. It assesses the ability to follow instructions, balance and focus.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus – This test requires a driver to follow a physical object, such as a pen, with his or her eyes. A jerking motion in the eyes can indicate intoxication.
- One-leg stand test – In this test, a driver will have to balance on one leg for approximately 30 seconds while the officer looks for trouble balancing or lack of coordination.
If there are problems with the administration of these tests, it could adversely impact you as a driver, possibly leading to formal criminal charges or the suspension of a driver’s license on invalid grounds.
Fighting for your future
There is a lot at stake when charged with drunk driving in Kentucky. If you are facing DUI charges, it is in your interests to begin working on your defense strategy as soon as possible after your arrest. This could allow you to effectively confront the case against you and pursue the most beneficial outcome to your situation. To start, you may find it helpful to learn about the specific defense strategies most practical for your individual situation.