A traffic stop can help the police gather evidence against a driver who is suspected of drunk driving. This investigation often starts with a few questions, such as where the driver had been and if they were drinking. If this is inconclusive, the police may ask the driver to take a field or chemical sobriety test.
If you’ve never heard about field or chemical sobriety tests until now, here’s what you should know:
Standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) to help the police conduct a thorough examination of drivers and decide whether a driver is drunk. SFSTs look for characteristics that might indicate a driver is inebriated. There are three kinds of SFSTs: horizontal gaze nystagmus test, one-legged stand and walk-and-turn test.
Drivers may also be asked to do non-standardized field sobriety tests (NSFST). An NSFST may have a driver, for example, touch their nose with one finger, spell words backward or touch their toes. An NSFST can be nearly anything that might help the police judge a driver.
Blood, urine and breath sobriety tests
Alternatively, the police may ask a driver to submit a chemical sobriety test. A chemical sobriety test evaluates the amount of alcohol in a driver’s body. If the alcohol content is above the legal limit, then the driver may face criminal charges. There are three kinds of chemical sobriety tests: breath, blood and urine.
Breath tests are commonly taken because the police can carry devices with them during traffic stops. Blood and urine tests may require drivers to go to a hospital or police station to be tested. Out of the three, blood tests are typically the most accurate and urine tests are the least.
Knowing about each sobriety test and your legal rights could help you during a traffic stop. If you believe your legal rights were violated during a traffic stop, then it may be important to seek legal help.