When drivers in Pennsylvania and other states are pulled over by a police officer, it is likely they are in a slight panic mode. No motorist likes to get pulled over, and no motorist ever enjoys getting a ticket following a stop. What about stops that involve more than just a simple traffic violation? If an officer is under the suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, a driver will be subjected to some tests. It is not only important to understand what these tests are but also why they are used. This awareness could help a driver assert defenses if he or she is facing a drunk driving charge.
The field sobriety test is commonly used by police officers that suspect a driver is under the influence. The goal of these tests is to ensure that a police officer has enough probable cause to arrest a driver for drunk driving. The standardized field sobriety test consists of three tests.
- The first test is the horizontal gave nystagmus. The test focuses on the natural jerking of the eye when a person gazes to the side; however, when a person is impaired by alcohol, this jerking becomes exaggerated.
- The second test is the walk and turn. This is when a driver walks heel-to-toe in a straight line, turns on one foot and returns to the starting point in the same manner. This test focuses on the driver's ability to complete this task with divided attention.
- The final test is the one-leg test. In this test, the driver is asked to stand on one foot with the other foot about six inches off of the ground and count for 30 seconds. This tests focuses on the drivers swaying, balancing, the usage of arms to balance, hopping and putting the foot down.
Suspects who fail the field sobriety test are usually given a breathalyzer test in order to determine the blood alcohol content prior to an arrest is made. When a driver is arrested on a drunk driving charge, it is important to understand that there are defense options available. Mistake could be made during a stop, field sobriety test, breathalyzer test and arrest. The accused could use that information to assert a defense, suppress evidence and even dismiss the charges against them.
Those facing a DUI charge should take the time to understand their defense options. A legal professional could help a defendant fully understand their situation and what defense route will meet their needs and goals. Asserting a strong defense could help a defendant reduce or even dismiss the charges against them.
Source: Findlaw.com, "Field Sobriety Tests," accessed Dec. 28, 2016