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Part II: What can I expect in a field sobriety test?

As our regular readers will recall, a few days ago we wrote about what a Denver driver pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving might expect from the police officer. After your driver’s license has been examined, you might well be asked to take a field sobriety test.

In our previous post, we described the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, a vision test in which the officer examines how smoothly you are able to track with your eyes a small object moving from side to side.

When a person is impaired by alcohol, their eyes tend to make irregular movements as they track the object. These irregular bouncing or jerking movements are referred to as a nystagmus. When looking for a nystagmus, the officer might well shine a flashlight at your face in order to be able to clearly see your eye movements.

Another part of the standardized field sobriety test approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is the One-leg Stand. As the name of the test indicates, you are asked to stand on one leg. You are also asked to keep your other foot about six inches off of the ground as you count to 30.

People who sway during this test or must use their arms for balance or put both feet on the ground might be considered to be impaired.

A third test is called Walk and Turn. For this test, the police officer asks the suspect to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn on one foot, and return to the same spot using the same heel-to-toe method. Again, swaying, using arms for balance or being unable to walk a straight line might well be interpreted as signs of drunkenness.

If you fail the sobriety test, you will likely be given a breathalyzer test to check your blood-alcohol content (BAC). In Colorado, the legal threshold is a BAC of 0.08 percent. At that level or above, you will be arrested for DUI.

That’s when the legal process begins. Discuss your options with a Denver attorney experienced in DUI defense.

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