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Driving Under the Influence
Most DUIs involve three phases: the stop, the field evaluation, and an arrest. Police are requires to follow the proper rules and procedures during these phases or any evidence they gathered may be suppressed.
In order to initiate a stop, the officer must have reasonable suspicion. Most of the time, the officer will claim that they initiate the stop for a traffic offense. By law, the officer must not spend any more time than necessary to issue the citation. To justify the field evaluation that typically follows, the officer will generally need to observe some clues of impairment: slurred speech, red/watery eyes, or the odor of alcohol, etc.
The Field Evaluation
Also known as the "field sobriety test". The National Highway and Traffic Safety Institute has sanctioned three main tests to evaluate whether a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. The first is a "walk and turn" test where the driver is told to take 10 steps forward and turn and take 10 steps back. The next test involves testing for an involuntary jerking of the eyes that can be indicative of intoxication. The final test is a balancing one-leg stand. For each of these tests the officer is looking for any deviation from their instructions.The officer may then ask the driver to blow into a portable alcohol sensor to test for the presence of alcohol. All of these tests and the breath test that follows are optional.
After the evaluation is completed, or sooner if the officer believes they have probable cause, the officer will arrest the driver. The officer may take the driver to the police station or a hospital to perform a scientific test to determine the Blood-Alcohol Content of the driver. This test is also optional, but the consequence for refusing is typically the confiscation of the driver's license and, potentially, the suspension of the driver's driving privileges for one year.
Anyone accused of a DUI needs an experienced attorney who understands the significance of the stop, field evaluation and the arrest and can challenge them in court. For a free consultation, contact us today to schedule an appointment.