In the United States, there are a few ways that a driver can become suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), also known as DWI, OVI, and DUII. A driver can be weaving in and out of traffic, or driving with their headlights off at night, or they can be showing some other sign of possible intoxication and a concerned citizen calls in a tip to the police, or a police officer notices the odd driving behavior and pulls the driver over.
A traffic stop for a traffic violation, such as running a red light, speeding, or rolling through a red light can quickly become a DUI stop if the officer observes possible signs of intoxication. Such suspicions usually arise during the officer's initial contact with the driver. Intoxicated drivers will often show one or more of these signs of intoxication:
- Slurred speech
- Strong odor of alcohol on the breath
- Poor balance and coordination
- Arguing with the officer
- Driver admits to drinking
Driver is Asked to Perform Field Sobriety Tests
Once an officer suspects DUI, the officer will ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), three standard tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The field sobriety tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg-stand. These are divided attention tests that are difficult for sober people to pass!
Drivers do NOT have to take the field sobriety tests, they are optional and there is NO penalty for refusing. Not only are these tests used to gain probable cause to make a DUI arrest, they are admissible in court as evidence and usually recorded on the officer's dash cam or body camera.
When asked to perform the field sobriety tests, politely refuse. However, do keep in mind that if you choose not to take a chemical test, your license will be automatically suspended for up to one year.
Protect your rights – contact a criminal defense attorney for an aggressive defense!