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Field sobriety test basics and what to know about them

Blood and breath test results are commonly used as evidence against individuals accused of drunk driving. There are several different types of tests that are used to determine if a driver is driving while intoxicated. Breath and blood tests can be used to determine if the driver's blood alcohol content level is above the legal limit to drive a vehicle. Field sobriety tests are another type of test commonly used to determine if a driver is driving while intoxicated.

Field sobriety tests are typically conducted prior to a breath test or breathalyzer test. When a driver is suspected of being impaired, a 3-part field sobriety test is commonly conducted. Field sobriety tests are utilized to observe the driver's balance, physical ability, attention level and other factors. It is common for field sobriety tests to be used to help determine if a driver is driving under the influence. The 3 common field sobriety tests that are part of The Standardized Field Sobriety Test include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test or HGN, the walk-and-turn test or WAT and the one-leg stand test or OLS.

The police officer's observations recorded during the field sobriety test can be used as evidence against the accused individual if drunk driving charges are brought against the driver. Field sobriety tests are one aspect of an encounter a driver may have with police to determine if there is probable cause to charge the driver with drunk driving. Probable cause requires that authorities believe it is likely a crime has been committed and that the accused individual has committed a crime. Because of the significance of DUI charges, it is important to understand field sobriety tests and how they contribute to charges being brought.

The criminal defense process provides protections for accused individuals at different levels of the process as they interact with the criminal justice system. It may be possible to challenge evidence alleged against the accused individual on different grounds, including if a field sobriety test was not conducted properly, which is why it is important to understand how to develop a strong criminal defense strategy when facing DUI charges or other criminal charges.

Source: DUI.findlaw.com, "Field Sobriety Tests," Accessed May 8, 2017

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