Driving under the influence refers to operating a motorized vehicle while intoxicated. Besides alcohol, intoxication can be caused by anything that impairs driving habits, such as OTC drugs, prescription drugs, banned substances, and more.
DUI specifically refers to operating a car while the blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the state’s legal limit. The BAC for motorists in most states should not exceed 0.08%–exceeding the legal limit can attract DUI charges. Fortunately, a New Jersey DUI lawyer can help you resolve a DUI charge or conviction.
Field Sobriety Tests
Tests designed to measure or establish intoxication or sobriety of motorists are called field sobriety tests. A police officer will flag you down on suspicion of drunk driving and request to perform a field sobriety test on you to put their concerns to rest. The common field sobriety tests include:
1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus refers to the involuntary jerking of the eyeballs that occurs when the eyes are rotated in a certain way. The jerking of the eyeballs can be exaggerated or impaired when a person is intoxicated.
The officer will require a driver to follow a moving object with their eyes. A pen or flashlight will typically be moved from one side to another slowly and repeatedly to establish whether:
- Jerking of the eyeballs is normal or consistent with that of a sober person;
- Jerking of eyeballs is within 45 degrees;
- If the motorist can follow the movements smoothly.
The driver is likely to be intoxicated (having a BAC of 0.10 or more if their actions deviate from the specified guidelines. This test is accurate 77% of the time according to the NHTSA.
2. Counting While Standing on One Foot
The suspect is requested to count up to a certain number while standing on one foot. The second foot should be extended and the hands should be extended downwards.
3. Walking an Imaginary Line
The suspect walks a straight line while moving the hands from the heel of one foot to the toes of the second foot. Additional instructions can include walking– heel-to-toe, ten steps forward, making a 180 degrees turn, and then walking nine steps back to the original position.
4. Finger to Nose
The finger-to-nose test requires a driver to touch their nose with one index finger while the eyes.
5. Alternate Clapping
This test requires a suspected driver to clap their palms–the inside part followed by the back of the palms. It should be done simultaneously while counting to a specified number
6. Reciting the Alphabet
The suspect is requested to recite the alphabetic order–wholly or partially.
7. Counting Backwards
The driver will be requested to count backward. For instance counting from number 10 going back to number 1.
8. Fingers to Thumb
In this test, the suspected driver should touch a specific finger with their thumb.
Rights Relating to Sobriety Tests
A driver can decline to take a field sobriety test although it can result in a DUI charge or arrest. The legal rights relating to sobriety tests include:
1. The Right to Decline a sobriety Test
You have a right to decline a certain field sobriety test, such as the walk-and-turn, the one-legged-touch-your-nose, and others. Although sobriety tests are used in the investigation phase and help establish the intoxication or sobriety of a suspected motorist, you’re not obligated to participate in the tests. However, you can still be arrested if the officer has sufficient reason to believe you’re intoxicated.
2. The Right to Decline a Screening Test
A screening test is more advanced than a field sobriety test. The arresting officer can request you to take a secondary test, such as a breathalyzer test (screening test) to measure your blood alcohol content. Although the breathalyzer test determines whether a driver is fit to drive or not, the suspected motorist can refuse to take the test.
3. Implied consent
The implied consent law states that implied consent to participate in a field sobriety test or a PAS arises when a driver hands their driver’s license to a police officer after stopping. Refusal to participate after handing over your driver’s license to the officer could result in license revocation. Also, a refusal to participate can negatively impact your trial.
4. The Right to Decline a Blood Test
Motorists have a right to decline a blood test without indictment except when an officer has a warrant to take a blood test. The exception to this rule is:
- Giving or denying consent is beyond the suspect;
- The blood sample is likely to be lost if protective measures are not taken.
The exception to the rule mainly occurs when the suspect is not conscious.
Motorists have certain rights relating to DUI tests. Always remember that a DUI arrest or conviction can impact your prospects, such as employment or education opportunities.