There is no mistaking the harsh, flashing glare of Denver police car lights. The piercing lights immediately alert you and everyone in the vicinity that a police officer wants you to pull your vehicle over. If the officer is stopping you on suspicion of drunken driving, it’s quite possible that he or she will ask you to perform a field sobriety test. (Refusal to take the test means a one-year Colorado driver’s license suspension.)
So what can a driver expect to be asked to do in a sobriety test by a police officer? Let’s take a look.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration endorses a Standardized Field Sobriety Test that consists of three parts: a horizontal gaze exam, a look at the way you walk and turn and also a test to see how well you stand on one leg.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: few of us run into the word “nystagmus” very often, so let’s define it: it refers to irregular eye movement. The irregular movements (sometimes referred to as a “bouncing” type of movement) can be caused by medical conditions, as well as by alcohol impairment.
The test often involves the officer shining a flashlight at your face so that he or she can watch the movement of your eyes as you follow a pen or finger with your eyes. If the eyes jerk or bounce in their movement, rather than moving smoothly, this can help to establish probable cause.
We will have more on the field sobriety test in our next blog post. For those facing DUI charges, an experienced Denver attorney can help you sort through your legal options and challenges.