You’re on your way home from a night out with friends when you see blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. Nothing will ruin a fun evening out with friends like having to pull over for suspected operating under the influence. You will have to speak with the police officer, and you may have to submit to certain tests.
There are certain things that happen during an OUI traffic stop. First, the officer will come to your vehicle window and speak to you. He or she will likely ask for your license, vehicle registration and may ask what you’ve been doing. If there is a reason to suspect alcohol consumption, such as seeing bloodshot eyes or smelling it on your breath, a Massachusetts officer may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests
If there is a reason to suspect intoxicated driving, the officer will likely ask you to step out of your vehicle and complete certain tasks. These tasks are to evaluate cognition and coordination, two things affected by alcohol. Field sobriety tests include three standard tests used by all law enforcement. They are as follows:
- Walk-and-turn test – During this test, the driver will take nine steps, turn around and take nine steps back, which have to be heel-to-toe and in a straight line. Officers look for indications of imbalance.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test – During this test, the driver will have to use only his or her eyes to follow a slow-moving object that is moving side to side. The officer will look for a jerking of the eyeballs that could indicate high BAC.
- One-leg stand test – During this test, the driver will have to stand with his or her foot six inches off the ground. He or she then has to count while balancing until the officer says to put the foot down.
While these tests require only basic skill, they are generally effective at indicating whether a chemical test of the blood is necessary. It is imperative an officer performs these tests correctly after receiving appropriate training.
Preparing a strong defense
If you are facing OUI charges, there is a lot at stake for you. You would be wise to work quickly to secure legal counsel that can help you prepare a strong and effective defense strategy. If there were problems with the sobriety tests administered during your initial traffic stop or other issues with the prosecution’s evidence, you can work to challenge the entire case against you. An assessment of your case will help you know where to start.