When the police pull over a driver under the suspicion of drunk driving, the officer should conduct an investigation. The investigation should involve gathering more evidence to prove whether the driver is or is not inebriated. This usually begins by asking the driver several questions.
Questioning drivers if they are drunk or were at bars often doesn’t provide enough evidence. The police may conduct sobriety tests that can help them gather additional evidence. Here are several kinds of sobriety tests:
Standardized field sobriety tests
The police can ask drivers to do physical examinations called standardized field sobriety tests. There are three standardized field sobriety tests:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- Walk-and-turn test
- One-legged stand test
The police are looking for a few signs of inebriation when they evaluate these tests. For example, if a driver doesn’t follow instructions, falls repeatedly or can’t focus, then they could be drunk. Some drivers will refuse to do standardized field sobriety tests because drowsiness, medical and disabilities may make it harder for them to pass the tests.
Chemical sobriety tests
Alternatively, the police may conduct chemical tests. A driver could provide urine or blood samples. These samples would then be tested for blood alcohol content (BAC) that is present in the body. If the alcohol content is higher than the legal limit, then the driver is violating laws. However, urine and blood tests are not always the most accurate.
The most accurate sobriety test is a breath test. To do this test, the driver must blow into a small machine that will read their BAC. Unlike a urine and blood test that would be conducted at a police station or hospital, a breath test can be administered during a traffic stop.
Drivers who reach out for legal help may have a stronger defense if they believe their rights were violated during traffic stops.