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What Happens When Police Stop Vehicles to Administer Sobriety Tests?

Police officers who suspect drivers to be legally drunk will likely pull over those individuals for some sort of traffic violation or suspicious driving movements, such as weaving, crossing the center line or extremely slow driving.

While you are still in your vehicle, an officer will look for visible signs of intoxication based on how you respond — both verbally and physically — to the officer when he or she asks for your driver’s license and vehicle registration. The officer might also ask if you have had anything to drink.

If officers have reason to believe you are intoxicated, they will ask you to step out of your vehicle to participate in a field sobriety test. These tests could include:

  • One-leg stand test: The officer asks you to stand with your arms down and one foot up about six inches in the air.
  • Walk and turn test: The officer asks you to walk in a straight line, putting the heel of your stepping foot directly in front of the toe of your back foot. You then turn and walk back, repeating the steps.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The officer asks you to track an object in motion with your eyes while keeping your head in the same position. This object is usually a penlight. During this test, the officer looks for a specific type of bouncing or jerking in your eyes.
  • PBT test: The officer asks you to blow into a preliminary breath test (PBT) device to get a reading of your blood alcohol content (BAC).

There are ways you can challenge the results of these tests, so even if you “fail” the tests police offers administer to you, it’s still possible to fight the charges levied against you. To learn more, contact dedicated Reading DUI defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.

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