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Can field sobriety tests leave you buried under a DUI charge?

Getting stopped by police under any circumstances can cause you to experience extreme stress. Even if an officer simply wants to inform you of a broken taillight or other minor issue, you may still feel easily overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this sense of anxiety may increase if the officer suspects that you have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. If so, an officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests.

Officers commonly utilize field sobriety tests in order to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to place someone under arrest for DUI. Of course, you may not have a familiarity with such testing before having to participate in them yourself.

Types of sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests may consist of standardized and non-standardized actions that an officer has you perform in order to gauge your abilities. Standardized field sobriety tests may include:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus - This test involves an officer judging the movement of your eyes to determine the possible presence of signs of impairment.
  • Walk and turn - When completing a walk and turn test, you would take heel-to-toe steps down a straight line, turn on your foot and walk back. Unimpaired individuals can often complete this task easily, while impaired parties typically have a more difficult time.
  • One-leg stand - As the name implies, if asked to perform a one-leg stand test, you would stand with one foot off the ground. If you appear to have difficulty keeping your balance, an officer may suspect impairment.

When it comes to non-standardized field sobriety tests, officers could potentially request a variety of actions, including:

  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Counting backward
  • Touching your finger to your nose
  • Various head movements

The officer could potentially also ask for the completion of other actions.

Challenging field sobriety tests

If you participated in any of these field sobriety tests and an officer placed you under arrest for DUI, you may wonder about the legality and validity of such tests. While most officers also utilize breath or blood testing to bolster their field sobriety test findings, you may still have the ability to challenge the outcomes of sobriety tests. If the arresting officer did not conduct the tests correctly or failed to follow other necessary procedures, you could use that information in your defense.

In order to fully assess the circumstances of your arrest and other aspects of your predicament, you may wish to consult with an experienced California attorney. Having a legal professional on your side may help ensure that you understand your rights, along with whether any unjust actions took place during the arrest.

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