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Field Sobriety Tests in Henrico County DUI Cases

If you are pulled over and law enforcement suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol you will likely be administered a field sobriety tests. Below, a Henrico County DUI lawyer discusses what you should know regarding these tests and how they may be used against you in trial. For more information call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are used to determine the ability of an individual to drive or operate a vehicle. Officers will use these tests to determine intoxication or impaired levels. They’ll also use these tests to determine probable cause for an arrest. These tests had been developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which has specifically sanctioned the three following tests to be used:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures involuntary jerking of an individual’s eyes which is typically exacerbated by being intoxicated. The officer will hold up a pen and ask you to follow it and the officers will use that to determine levels of intoxication.

Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test is a test that is classified as a divided attention test. It’s used to measure both your coordination and your ability to follow specific directions.  The officer will ask you to walk in a straight line, take anywhere from five to ten steps to turn and then walk back.

One Leg Stand Test

The one legged stand test is also a divided attention test.  The officer will ask you to do is to hold your hands out straight and to lift up one leg usually anywhere between 6 to 12 inches above the ground and to hold it for a preset time or as long as you can.  While it is the officer is looking to see if you are able to keep your balance they are also reviewing your ability to follow their instructions and respond to their commands.

Do These Tests Need To Be Administered In a Certain Way?

These tests have to be administered according to the requirements of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which basically gives simple instructions on how to apply them. While officers are not required to follow these tests verbatim, they cannot add variations that would impact how one person might perform versus another (i.e. adding math problems or jumping jacks).

However, in Henrico County some of the law enforcement officers do these in unique ways. While the officers cannot dramatically alter these tests, they’ll differ on the counts for the walk and turn test, or may differ on the one legged stand anywhere from 6 to 12 inches high and they may differ as to how long they ask you to hold your foot up.

In addition to that, Henrico officers also often use what’s called the ABC test, in other words they’ll ask you to recite the ABCs from one specific letter to another, for the purpose to determine your ability to follow instructions but also your ability to speak clearly.

The Weight of Field Sobriety Tests At Trial

These tests can carry significant weight at a DUI trial. The officer will testify as to how you perform these tests, if you were able to follow their instructions, and communicate properly.  Your performance will be used to determine if probable caused existed for an arrest.

Can You Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests in Henrico?

You can refuse to perform these field sobriety tests in Henrico County. You can also refuse to take the preliminary breath test provided by the officer at the scene of the stop.  In some cases it may be beneficial to do this.  However, if you refuse to take the breath alcohol test at the police station you can be charged with refusal.