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Field Sobriety Tests in Richmond DUI Cases

The field sobriety tests are tests used by officers in law enforcement to determine levels of impairment of an individual, their coordination, and ability to follow instructions. If you are stopped by an officer for a DUI, let the officer know you want to speak to a Richmond DUI lawyer before answering any questions you are not legally required to.

DUI or driving under the influence in Richmond, Virginia is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.  In Virginia, “operating a vehicle” can mean:

  • Driving down the highway or a side road
  • Or even parked on the side of the road or driveway

You can be charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol level is below a 0.08. If the officers can show that you were impaired, either through your driving, your behavior and your performance on the tests, you can be charged with DUI.

Types of Richmond Field Sobriety Tests for DUI Cases

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved certain tests to be used by officers in determining impairment of drivers. There are typically three main tests used by officers in the City of Richmond.

  • The one legged stand
  • The walk and turn test
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test

Each of these is designed to measure your coordination, reactions, and ability to follow instruction.  For example, the nystagmus test measures the involuntary jerking of an individual’s eye which can be exacerbated if you’re intoxicated. The one legged stand and the walk and turn tests are what are called divided attention tests, which are used to measure both coordination but also your ability to follow instructions, which is a true indicator of impairment.

Administration of Field Sobriety Tests in Richmond

The tests used by the officers have to be administered in compliance with the National Highway Safety Regulations or at least substantially similar to their requirements. In other words, an officer can’t just make up his own tests or add their own wrinkles to the tests. If they were to do so we can challenge the findings of the tests or that they could establish probably cause for an arrest.

You can refuse to perform the sobriety tests in Richmond. You’re not required to take the field sobriety tests. However, if you refuse to take the BAC test at the police station, you can be charged with refusal.

Failing Richmond Field Sobriety Tests

If you fail your field sobriety tests in Richmond, you may be arrested. Once you are arrested for DUI in the city of Richmond you will be taken to the police station for testing. Afterwards, the blood alcohol test will be conducted by the officer. After arriving in a station, they will monitor you for usually 15 to 20 minutes and then they’ll ask you to provide at least two samples. If you were to blow positive or blow over a 0.08, they will charge you with DUI. You can still be charged even if your results are lower than a 0.08.

Contacting a DUI Lawyer in Richmond

An individual should contact an attorney as soon as they can after a DUI case, however you are not allow to make a call until after you have been taken before a magistrate and formally charged. After being charged by the magistrate, you will be given an opportunity to make a phone call.

You cannot contact a lawyer during a DUI stop. You have no right to demand that. Typically an officer will ask you to get off the phone.

You can get a lawyer for a bond hearing. We usually recommend doing that because a lot of individuals are not aware of the specifics for a bond hearing. At a bond hearing, the Court will want to ensure you appear for trial and will want to know what contacts you have with the area. An attorney can also negotiate a bond with the Commonwealth’s attorney prior to your hearing.