Field Sobriety Tests in Raleigh, N.C.
You’re driving home from the bars one night, when suddenly, you see the red and blue lights start flashing before you. A police officer is pulling you over, and you think you might have to take a field sobriety test.
- What does that mean?
- What will you have to do?
- What are your rights?
- Can you refuse a test?
The Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley wants you to know that you do have rights when you’re pulled over, and it is vital that you know them. Learn what you need to know about field sobriety tests and how you should conduct yourself to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself or give the prosecution any reason to conviction.
Roadside Sobriety Tests
When you’re pulled over and the officer suspects that you’re intoxicated, he or she will ask you to step out of the vehicle. The officer will then administer what is known as a roadside sobriety test. These are tests that can usually be done by a sober individual. If an intoxicated person falls over or cannot walk without stumbling, then an officer might administer a breathalyzer test.
There are three different types of roadside sobriety tests:
- One legged-stand test: The driver must stand with one leg stretched out in front of them. The leg must be raised at least six inches off the ground. The driver will then count to 30 (“one-one thousand, two-one thousand, ect.). Certain clues that indicate a drunk driver include raising the arms out for balance, hopping around, dropping the foot too early, and swaying.
- Walk-and-turn test: The driver will be required to walk heel-to-toe for nine whole steps, then turn around on the spot and walk nine steps back. The driver must also count each step aloud and look at his or her feet. The hands must remain at the side. Some of the indicators of intoxication include expanding arms or hands out for balance, missing a step by much more than a half an inch, stepping out or off the line, making an incorrect turn, taking the incorrect number of steps, and stopping the test too early.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test: This test is designed to test whether or not the eyes are twitching involuntarily (Nystagmus). The officer will ask the driver to follow a certain stimulus while keeping the head still. By moving the stimulus from left to right, the officer will look for six clues, three for each eye, that will tell him or her is your eyes are tracking smoothly:
- Lack of smooth pursuit
- Clear Nystagmus at the maximum deviation
- Clear Nystagmus before 45 degrees.
Failure to pass one or more of these tests will not automatically convict you of a drunk driving charge, but the results could be used against you in a court of law.
Taking one or more of these tests is usually just step one. In most cases, officers will also pull out the AlcoSensor test, better known as a handheld breathalyzer machine, and ask you to blow into it. This test will show your level of intoxication at the moment.
What you do need to know if that this test cannot be used at any trial or in any courtroom. The officer who administered the test can only testify as to what the machine recorded.
As a driver, you are required to obey laws when you are being pulled over, just as you would at any other time. Remember these rules:
- Pull over when you see an officer flash the lights. Pull to a safe area. You must also stop when you reach a license checkpoint.
- Present your license and registration when asked to do so by the officer.
- Act in a polite manner.
You do not have to:
- Answer the officer’s questions about where you’ve been, where you’re going, or how much you had to drink before getting behind the wheel. Respectfully decline to answer questions.
- Lie to the officer. In fact, it can be brought up against you if you are caught in your lie (which will probably happen if your case advances).
- Take a field sobriety test or blow into a breathalyzer test.
- Answer any questions after you have been read your Miranda warning, assuming you have been arrested.
Though you do not have to take these tests, it does not mean that you won’t be arrested. If an officer has probable cause to suspect that you’re drunk, then he or she will probably arrest you anyway. What you can do by remaining silent is limit the amount of evidence that can be brought against you by the prosecution.
Contact a Raleigh DWI Attorney Today
If you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving, then call the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley. Our law office is well adapted at defending those who have been accused of drunk driving, and we’ll ensure that your rights are protected. Call the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley and get started on your defense now.