No one enjoys having encounters with police officers if you’re on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately, many people face this stressful situation when they’re pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). Everyone knows about breathalyzer tests, but police officers also perform other field sobriety tests since breathalyzers have been known to give inaccurate results. It’s important for everyone to know about these assessments if they hope to get a fair trial; this is simply because some tests are not federally approved.
Federally Approved Tests
There are actually three different field sobriety tests that have been federally approved to test for drunk driving. When using these sobriety tests, police officers are able to accurately tell if a driver is under the influence in over ninety percent of traffic stops.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
Police perform this examination by observing a driver’s eyes while moving an object around their head. The eyes make involuntary movements when following objects, and these movements become more pronounced and occur earlier when a person is intoxicated. This involuntary bodily reaction is a great test for intoxication.
Walk and Turn Test
Most people have witnessed the walk and turn test on police chase television shows. This is the test where officers have a suspected drunk driver walk a straight line, turn around and then walk back. Intoxicated people will likely stumble, walk off of the line, not properly follow directions or simply be unable to perform the test.
The One Leg Stand Test
This test is performed by having the suspected intoxicated driver stand on one foot for thirty seconds while counting. If someone is inebriated, they will likely lose their balance or be unable to properly count while balancing themselves.
Depending on the state a ((correct to: Depending on the state in which a driver resides)) driver resides, DUI’s carry various degrees of severity. Residents in a major city like Boston may fair better in court with a skilled Massachusetts criminal lawyer. Whereas, residents of a smaller town like Oxford, Mississippi may do better with a DUI attorney. Regardless of the location, it’s important to seek every possible avenue to prepare accordingly for your day in court.
Non Approved Tests
There are several other tests that police officers may conduct to ascertain whether a person is intoxicated or not. However, these tests are not federally approved. In fact, the reason they’re not approved is because no study has definitively shown that failing one of these examinations is correlated with intoxication. This means that, in some cases, innocent people can be arrested if these tests are used to check for intoxication.
Many police officers will ask suspected drunk drivers to count backwards from a certain number. Others may ask drivers to recite the alphabet backwards. Unfortunately, there are sober people who may have trouble performing either of these tasks. That is one reason why this method of field sobriety test isn’t approved.
The Rhomberg Balance Test
Police officers may also ask a person to put their feet together and then slowly tilt their head backwards. While it is true that intoxicated people will likely lose their balance, it’s also true that perfectly sober people may as well. The test is inherently difficult since some individuals aren’t accustomed to this motion, so this test is considered unreliable.
The finger to nose field sobriety test is another common staple of police drama shows. A suspect is asked to extend their arms to their sides and then slowly touch the tip of their nose. Police officers check for a loss of balance, failure to follow directions and several other factors during this test. Sadly, this test is also not perfect. Individuals who don’t even drink can fail this test on occasion.
Field sobriety tests and breathalyzers go a long way in keeping intoxicated drivers off of the road. Regrettably, some police officers use non-approved methods of testing for drunk driving. It’s important for a person to know which tests are federally approved so that they’re not wrongly convicted. Non-approved tests prove absolutely nothing and can end up costing you far more than a trip to jail. Justice and your reputation are priceless.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and contributes this article to inform drivers about the importance of being more aware of their state driving laws. Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer, Jack Diamond, is an experienced attorney with a concentration in representing persons charged with the crime of drunk driving. To better accommodate his clients, Jack Diamond is affiliated with several local and national criminal defense and drunk driving organizations.
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