Virginia Field Sobriety Tests
Walk in a straight line. Stand on one leg. These things are hard enough for most people, but if you are pulled over late at night, blue lights flashing, these tasks may be almost impossible to complete.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the law enforcement agent may ask you to perform a series of tests to determine how intoxicated you are. These are called “field sobriety tests.”
One of the most common field sobriety tests is Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) testing. HGN is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball that naturally occurs as the eyes look to the side. During normal circumstances, nystagmus occurs when the eye is rotated at high peripheral angles.
However, when a person is under the influence of alcohol, nystagmus becomes exaggerated and may occur at lesser angles.
To perform the test, the officer slowly moves an object such as a pen or flashlight horizontally, while watching the driver’s eyes. If the driver cannot follow a moving object smoothly, the jerking is distinct when the eyes looking away at the furthest degree, or the jerking starts before 45 degrees of center, it is likely that the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 percent or more.
Divided attention tests are also commonplace. These tests (such as the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests) require the driver to listen and follow directions while performing simple physical movements. Drunk drivers find it difficult to perform these tests because they require attention to be divided between physical and mental exercises.
Besides these tests, officers also look at a person’s appearance to determine whether or not he is under the influence. The officer may note that the driver smells like alcohol, has red eyes, an unusual demeanor, a flushed face, slurred speech, and disheveled or dirty clothing.
If you were asked to take any of these tests and arrested for DUI in Virginia, you need to immediately contact a DUI defense lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. To begin fighting these charges, please fill out our online form today.
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