Smith, Meier & Webb, LPA

Ohio criminal law: Things to know about field sobriety tests

When police in Ohio suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will likely initiate a traffic stop and test that person for impairment. There are several tests that they use to do this, which are called field sobriety tests. Those who fail these tests or refuse to take them may need assistance from a criminal law attorney to defend their position in court.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there are three standard field sobriety tests that are recognized. These are the walk and turn, one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. All of these are looking for a person's ability to follow directions and perform certain physical tasks that are generally difficult for an impaired person to do.

Along with these physical tests, officers may ask a subject to submit to a breath test. When a person supplies a breath sample into the Breathalyzer machine, it mixes with chemicals and if alcohol is detected, a total blood-alcohol percentage is displayed on the monitor. Although deemed highly accurate, breath tests and the standard field sobriety tests are not perfect and the results may not be trustworthy.

Refusing field sobriety tests may not prevent police from arresting a person that they believe is driving while impaired, but it will give the state less data to go on in criminal court. Ohio residents can have their licenses suspended, though, for refusing, which is one reason so many people submit to these tests. A criminal law attorney may be able to help an accused individual fight DUI charges whether or not the client submitted to or refused field sobriety tests by thoroughly investigating the matter and questioning the validity of any evidence offered in the case.

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