Field Sobriety Testing: What Could Go Wrong?
Thousands of people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) every day. However, much of the evidence used to convict those people may not be legal or just. Read on and learn more about why you should question what goes on during a roadside DUI stop.
The Roadside Stop and Implied Consent
When you get in the driver's seat, did you know that you are automatically giving consent for law enforcement to perform certain actions? Driving, some citizens seem to forget, is not a right provided by the US Constitution but a privilege. That privilege can be removed if you break the rules of the road and particularly if you drive while impaired. Law enforcement has the right and the power to stop almost any vehicle.
The Roadside Stop and Probable Cause
Law enforcement can stop you for a variety of reasons but there has to be a reason nevertheless. When it comes to DUI stops, certain driving behaviors can trigger a stop. Drivers under the influence exhibit certain actions that can signal impairment, such as the following:
- Weaving and failure to maintain a lane of travel.
- Falling asleep (or passing out) at a stop sign, a green light, or nearly anywhere.
- Not using headlights at night.
Any of the above and more can constitute probable cause and provide a reason to stop the vehicle. With dashcam video commonly available, proof (or lack of proof) of probable cause is seldom an issue and is easily verified by your attorney.
Roadside Testing and Probable Cause
Once you are stopped, law enforcement will determine an additional probable cause that can lead to roadside sobriety testing and even a breathalyzer test. They may observe speech, odors, eyes, and other signs of possible intoxication and ask you to take part in a few field sobriety tests. That is where problems can begin for some innocent drivers. Up to now, law enforcement is within their rights to make the stop and seek more information. However, field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate indicators of impairment. Many with neurological or physical issues who are not intoxicated have problems with these tests.
Refusing to participate in field sobriety testing and blood alcohol concentration tests can lead to even more problems. Regardless of what occurred on the roadside, there is a chance that law enforcement cannot back up their claims of impairment. Speak to a DUI defense lawyer from a firm like Brown & Hilderley PLLC about your case — it's worth your time to prevent having a black mark on your record.