Orange County Field Sobriety Tests
California law mandates that a police officer may stop a car and ask the driver to step out if he suspects that the driver is operating the vehicle while his ability to drive is impaired due to the presence of alcohol or drugs in his body above legally permissible limits. An officer may decide to administer a DUI field sobriety tests based on indications of impairment like erratic driving, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, dilation of pupils, odor of alcohol in breath, vomiting etc. DUI field sobriety tests (“FSTs”) are designed to evaluate a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Typically, an officer administering a field sobriety tests may require a driver to undertake one or more of the following tests: Preliminary Alcohol Screening test (PAS), Finger to Nose test, Divided Attention Test, Walking the Line and Turning Test, One Leg Stand, Balance Test, Alphabet Test, Counting Test etc. These tests are designed to detect intoxication, inability to follow instructions, wavering gaze, unsteadiness, lack of alertness, lack of body-mind coordination, lack of body balance etc. Preliminary Alcohol Screening test (PAS) is a test which requires the driver to blow a sample of breath onto a portable authorized screening test device (AST) to determine the presence of alcohol in the body. The officer is required to inform the driver that these tests are not mandatory and can be refused.
Failure to perform the test to the satisfaction of the peace officer can result in a DUI arrest. Poor performance on FST exercises, an AST reading of over 2100/1 blood to breath ratio and/or a blood test result of over .08% may support a finding of impairment to drive due to alcohol or drug consumption and may be admitted as evidence of your guilt at administrative hearing or court trial. This evidence may be inadmissible in court if the stop was unreasonable, arrest or detention of the driver was arbitrary, the police officer did not inform the driver of his right to refuse the test, to remain silent, request counsel etc. Performance on tests depends on several factors including length of time since the last drink, the body’s alcohol absorption time, habit of smoking, alcoholism, fever, acid reflux etc.
You may politely refuse to take the FSTs to buy time, although, refusing to take the blood test without reasonable cause is also an offense. It is important to consult an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney like Scott D. Hughes, immediately upon being stopped by an officer and a request for breath sample or FSTs being made, or upon a DUI arrest being made to ensure that your rights are protected and the tests are administered according to law. For assistance, please call the Law Office of Scott D. Hughes, for a free consultation today!