If you have recently arrested and charged with a DUI, there are a number of scenarios that you have to look forward to. For example, you will soon have to appear in court to answer to the charges that have been filed against you. You will need to hire the services of a qualified DUI lawyer in order to have full legal representation at your trial. This is not an area in which you can afford to skimp or cut corners. Attempting to represent yourself at such an important trial could have serious negative consequences.
What Are Some of the Most Common Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
There are a number of forms that the average field sobriety test may take. One of the most common is the one-leg stand test. In this test, the police officer will instruct you to stand perfectly still while raising one foot about six inches off the ground. You will then be told to count aloud, “1001, 1002, 1003,” and so on. The test will usually last for a duration of thirty seconds until you are allowed to put your foot down.
During the time your foot is in the air, you will be told to keep your eyes steadily on it. If you begin to sway, suddenly need your arms to balance, hop on one foot, put your foot down before you are allowed to do so, or simply trip or fall down, this may be taken as evidence of being impaired by the influence of alcohol or drugs. This test is usually considered to be roughly 65 percent accurate in determining whether or not your judgment and movements are negatively affected by high blood alcohol content.
What Does the Walk and Turn Test Consist Of?
Another very common field sobriety test is known by various names, such as the nine-step test, the straight-line test, or the walk the line test. During the course of this test, the police officer who administers it will order you to take a series of the suspect is nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line. After you take these nine steps, you will then be ordered to turn on one foot and retrace your steps in the opposite direction.
There area number of indicators during this test that the police officer will look for in order to determine if your judgment and motor skills are impaired by the presence of alcohol. These indicators may include the following:
- Taking the wrong amount of steps, or losing track of how many steps you have taken.
- Turning in the wrong manner or taking a turn in the opposite direction.
- Starting or stopping the test before the police officer orders you to begin or desist.
- Walking without touching your heel to your toe.
- Having to use your arms to balance yourself during the test.
- Stepping purposely off the line, or tripping or falling off the line.
What Does the Horizontal Gaze Field Test Consist Of?
You may have heard about a special field test known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is a test that a police officer may require you to perform in order to judge if you are currently physically affected or impaired by the influence of alcohol. Studies have shown that this test is normally about 77 percent reliable when it comes to determining if the person being tested has a blood alcohol concentration above .10.
The test proceeds in the following manner. The police officer who pulled you over will instruct you to follow with your eyes a certain stimulus, such as a penlight or flashlight, to the left and then to the right. The officer who is conducting the test will take careful notice of the angle at which the pupil of your eye may begin to show signs of nystagmus.
At What Point Can the Presence of Nystagmus Result in You Being Arrested?
Nystagmus is a sort of twitch or tic that involves an involuntary jerking motion of the eye when it receives a certain stimulus, such as unexpected light from the police officer’s flashlight. If your eye should begin twitching involuntarily in this manner at or before it moves in a complete 45-degree angle, the police officer will generally note this down as proof of the presence of nystagmus. This may be counted as proof that you are currently suffering from a high blood alcohol concentration and were thus impaired while you were operating your vehicle. At this point, you may well be arrested.
Can You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
After absorbing all of the above listing information, you may well be wondering if you can refuse to take a field sobriety test. In some states, the answer is yes, but there will be penalties associated with your refusal. For example, a prosecutor will gladly seize upon the chance to inform the judge and jury at the trial of your refusal to take the test. They will welcome the opportunity to make the implication that you must have had something to hide. While this may not constitute evidence of your guilt in and of itself, it may have the effect of prejudicing the judge and jury against you.
Some States Do Not Allow You to Refuse a Field Sobriety Test
You should note that some states will not allow you under any circumstances to refuse to take a field sobriety test. In these states, when you apply for your driver’s license, you also signify your willingness to submit to a field sobriety test under an “implied consent” clause. This means that a police officer can arrest you and then authorize the forcible removal of blood from your system in order to conduct a blood alcohol test. It also means that if you refuse to take the test, you will face severe penalties, such as the suspension of your license for a long period of time, or even losing it altogether.
You Will Need to Hire a Qualified DUI Lawyer for Your Defense
By now it should be clear that the answer to the question, “Can you refuse to take a field sobriety test?” is, for all intents and purposes, no. If you refuse to do so, you can be arrested and have your refusal seen by a court of law as tacit admission of your guilt. At the very least, your refusal can lead to having your driver’s license revoked for a specified amount of time. You may also be subject to heavy fines. Your best bet is to submit to a field sobriety test when ordered to do so, as it is better to let your lawyer check the results afterward for any evidence of error or purposeful misconduct.
Can You Contest the Results of a Field Sobriety Test?
There are certain circumstances under which you may be able to contest the results of your field sobriety test. A DUI lawyer will routinely examine the results of the test, as well as the records pertaining to your arrest. Should your lawyer be able to spot any possible irregularities in either the test itself or the conduct of the officer who made the arrest, they may be able to get the charges significantly reduced or thrown out.
You Can Arrange for a Free Consultation With a DUI Lawyer Today
It’s an excellent idea to contact a professional DUI lawyer for a free consultation. By doing so, you can arrange to sit down with a legal expert who can help you organize your defense against these extremely serious charges. The sooner you do so, the sooner you will be able to put your best foot forward in court in order to answer to these charges and defeat them.