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5 questions about sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

The police have the right to pull over drivers suspected of drunk driving. When this happens, the police will take action to help confirm whether a driver was truly drunk. 

If you’re pulled over under the suspicion of drunk driving, then you may have a few questions. Here’s what you should know:

1. What is a standardized field sobriety test?

The police may test drivers for inebriation. The first thing they may do is ask a driver to do a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). An SFST is a kind of physical examination, which may include a gaze test, walk-and-turn test and a one-legged stand test. These tests are evaluated by an officer’s best judgment.

2. What is a non-standardized field sobriety test?

If an officer asks a driver to do tests that aren’t listed above, then they are considered non-standardized and aren’t sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A non-standardized test could involve a driver listing the alphabet backward while keeping a finger on their nose. 

3. What are chemical tests?

The police may use more detailed tests to determine if a driver is drunk. Drivers can have their blood alcohol content (BAC) tested with a breath, blood or urine test. Blood and urine tests are often less accurate than breath tests.

4. How does a chemical breath test work?

A breath test is a portable device that the police often carry for traffic stops. These devices evaluate the BAC in a driver’s breath. The driver will do this test by blowing into a tube in the device and the device will give a reading back.

5. Can you refuse a chemical test?

Many drivers often question if they are legally required to take chemical and field sobriety tests. Generally speaking, you can refuse to participate in field sobriety tests without legal penalties, but refusing chemical testing (like a Breathalyzer) puts you in violation of the state’s implied consent laws and can lead to immediate penalties. 

It may be important to understand your rights during a traffic stop. If you believe your rights were violated or you’ve been charged with drunk driving, legal guidance is wise.

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