Mechanisms Used to Test the Presence of Alcohol in Colonial Heights

Authorities are given a number of tools and tests for the purpose of determining whether a person is driving while intoxicated. Undergoing an evaluation on the side of the road may be overwhelming and could lead to errors in the conduction of the test, or by the performance of a person due to stress. Reach out to a criminal attorney to learn about the mechanisms used to test the presence of alcohol in Colonial Heights.

Testing the Presence of Alcohol in a Person’s Breath

When a police officer is attempting to determine whether a person could be guilty of DUI, they are seeking to establish probable cause for an arrest. Officers typically need to conduct an Intoxilyzer test on the individual. This test may ultimately lead to the presumption of intoxication. Before doing so, the officer needs to go through a certain number of steps.

Field Tests

Physical Tests

An officer could instruct an individual that was legally stopped do a number of physical challenges to help make a determination of whether they are intoxicated or not. While these challenges are not mandatory and the individual does not have to complete them, it may be in their advantage to do so. A person that appears intoxicated to the officer may not be able to talk their way out of the situation.

These field tests typically begin once the traffic stop occurs and the officer observes slurred speech, which is an inability to speak clearly, or the person smells of alcohol. Officers in Colonial Heights may use a number of mechanisms to test the presence of alcohol.

Finger Dexterity

After the physical test, there may be a series of other tests, including the finger dexterity test. With the finger dexterity test, the officer may ask the person to touch the tip of their thumb to their pointer finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger in that order while counting out loud from one to four. Once they reach the pinky finger, they must continue to go in the reverse order while counting backward from four to one. The officer may typically have the person do this three times to see if they make contact and remember to count each time.

Alphabet and Number Test

During an alphabet test, a person will be asked to say the alphabet backward. This test may be difficult for most individuals whether drunk or sober. Reciting the alphabet between two random letters, like L to Q or C to P, and to do so without singing may also be asked. While reciting the letters from A to Z might not be difficult for the average person, this test is designed to ensure that a person is able to complete the task at hand without outgoing or forgetting the letter provided.

During the numbers test, the officer will ask the person to count backward from two random numbers. Officers typically avoid using the fives and the tens. The purpose of this test is to see if the person is able to listen to the officer’s instructions.

Standard Sobriety Tests

After the tests are completed, if the officer has reason to believe the person is intoxicated, they could ask the person to do a series of more standard field sobriety tests.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer looks for involuntary movement or jumping of the eyes. The officer may look for nystagmus in the person’s eyes for a few different reasons, which may include:

  • Checking if the person has nystagmus at 45 degrees in which their eyes begin to shake
  • Checking if the person has nystagmus at full deviation and their eyes go all the way the right or all the way to the left
  • Checking if the person is able to maintain focus or if they jump back and forth

If the person possesses these characteristics, the officer may continue with other tests.

One-Leg Stand

The officer will ask the person to stand on one foot of their choosing, put the other leg up six inches off the ground, point their toe, lean back a little bit and then count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, etc, until they tell that person to stop. At that point, they could determine if the person is able to maintain their balance (are their arms flailing out, et cetera) and if they are able to remember the specific way to count.

Walk and Turn

The officer could ask the person to walk heel to toe for nine steps then turn and walk back, either on an actual line or an imaginary line.The person is asked to count their steps out loud during this process. They are also asked to make sure they are stepping heel to toe and are keeping their arms by their side.

After they have done all of those tests, if the officer still would like them to continue, then they would normally perform the preliminary breath test. If there is probable cause for an arrest, an Intoxilyzer breath test may be performed at the police station.

Speak to a DUI Lawyer

A DUI lawyer could help you challenge the mechanisms used to test the presence of alcohol in Colonial Heights. Reach out to an attorney to fight any allegations of driving while intoxicated and avoid any criminal convictions.