Drunk or Sober? How Police Test for Impaired Driving
When the police suspect that you may be driving under the influence, they have the authority to pull you over. After you’ve stopped, an officer may require you to undergo “field sobriety tests.” These are simple, non-intrusive tests that help authorities determine if you are fit to drive or if further sobriety testing is necessary. These tests, while not always accurate, are often a good indicator of the person’s ability to operate a vehicle.
Different Types Of Roadside Sobriety Tests
In most US states, tests you’ll be given go under the designation “Field Sobriety Tests”, and their results could determine whether you’re arrested and a case made against you for DUI. For example, for a DWI defense in the state of New Jersey, these tests could be highly relevant.
New Jersey DUI lawyer Levow & Associates states that retaining an attorney qualified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in administering the same field sobriety tests police make DWI suspects take may be crucial in determining if the tests were performed correctly, a factor that could be critical in formulating a defense.
• Cognitive Test. The police officer may decide to give you a cognitive test to see how well you respond to simple questions. Types of questions asked could be:
- “What day of the week is it?”
- “What’s the current month?”
- “Who is the president?”
- “What is your mother’s maiden name?”
The cognitive test is designed to see if you can think clearly. The police will not use questions that may be too difficult to answer or have too long of an explanation. They just want to see how quickly you can respond to their questions.
• Balance Test. The officer may ask you to step outside of your car and walk over to the side of the road. He may require you to walk a straight line, touch the tip of your nose, or see if you can stand on one foot. This type of test is to determine your physical control. If you cannot balance yourself, it is easy to assume that you cannot react physically to any situation while driving.
• Breathalyzer Test. The officer may require you to breath into a breathalyzer machine if they suspect that you have been drinking. This type of test will measure the alcohol content in your system based on the amounts found in your breath. If the test registers that you are under the influence of alcohol, the officer may require you to go to a local clinic and have a blood test. This test, however, is ineffective for anyone that is driving under the influence of anything other than alcohol.
• Probable Guess. This is not an actual test, but if you are pulled over for suspected driving under the influence and your car smells like an illegal substance, there are open containers strewn about the car, or visible paraphernalia can be seen, it is easy to assume that you are probably under the influence of some substance and the officer may see fit to arrest you under these circumstances.
While many of these tests are not scientifically based, they are a logical way for the officer to determine if you are fit to be behind the wheel of a car. In a majority of the cases, these tests accurately determine someone who is under the influence while behind the wheel.
Driving under the influence is responsible for causing over 50 percent of all fatal accidents on the highways. It is the responsibility of the police to do what it takes to keep these drivers off of the road and protect those who are driving within the law.
Freelance writer Nadine Swayne discusses the above tests for driving under the influence in the belief that by knowing the facts about drunk driving you’ll be more likely to abstain from it. Levow and Associates is a New Jersey DUI lawyer attorney firm experienced in driving under the influence defense. They stand strongly on the side of the rights of their clients accused of driving while impaired.
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