Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are some of the most common tools that Oklahoma officers use to identify impaired drivers—and your ability to perform these tests will ultimately help the officer decide whether or not to arrest you.
The Significance of Probable Cause
Law enforcement officials must meet two very important legal requirements before they can legally arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI)—and both of these requirements revolve around the probable cause standard. In simple terms, this means that the officer in question must have a valid reason for his or her actions. Otherwise, any charges resulting from the officer’s actions may be dismissed.
The first probable cause requirement that must be met in a drunk driving case involves the officer’s initial reasons for stopping you. For a traffic stop to be warranted, the officer must observe a crime—such as speeding or running a red light, for instance. If you were stopped for no reason, any events that take place afterward—including being arrested for DUI—will not be upheld in court.
Assuming the officer had probable cause for pulling you over, he or she must then meet an entirely new requirement before a chemical or field sobriety test can be administered. This time, the officer must have probable cause to suspect you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs—such as smelling alcohol on your breath or seeing an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. If the officer is unable to meet this standard, your arrest may be deemed unconstitutional.
Field Sobriety Tests: The Most Subjective Tests You’ll Ever Take
If there is probable cause to suspect you are impaired, the officer will most likely administer a field sobriety test to determine your level of impairment. Designed to help an officer evaluate your mental and physical abilities, these tests involve performing a series of tasks such as standing on one foot or walking an imaginary line. If the officer determines that you did not perform the test properly, you can expect to be placed under arrest for DUI.
Unfortunately, since there is no standardized way to determine whether a driver passes or fails a field sobriety test, it is ultimately left up to the officer to decide whether to arrest you or not. In light of this subjectivity, many drivers are scored unfairly—which is why it is so important for you to discuss your field sobriety test results with an experienced attorney prior to your DUI hearing.
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